29 July 2013

flying the flag

WOMAD festival, day three

What a day - a fantastic way to end three days of amazing music at Womad. Despite the rain on Saturday, the site had pretty much dried out by the time we arrived at midday on Sunday. On the drive in, we had circled nearly every band on the day's line-up and knew it was going to be a "run here there and everywhere" type situation. Plus, Ellie and I wanted to do a little browse of the stalls (always amazing, selling beautiful wares from all over the world) and oh - eat too. I have never packed in so much in one day but it was fun! We saw various performances from Japan to Reunion to Brazil, ate some delicious falafel & jerk chicken and bought some last minute goodies (I'm going to make a separate post about the last two topics because music comes first in this one!).

If you've seen my last two posts from Womad (day one & day two), then you'll know what's coming up. If not, then please check them out :D To keep you all in the same loop though: I've decided to take the traditional Malagasy cloth called a lambaoany and wear it in three different ways over the Womad weekend. Day one's style was as a top, day two's style was as a dress, and Sunday's style is: as a skirt or some might even say sarong. Oddly enough, this look made me feel the girliest and gave me the most island-feel of all the looks I tried out. I paired it with a crop trop, leggings underneath (because we didn't have island weather!) and again my favourite run around trainers (to be replaced by wellies later in the evening due to rain warnings). It's been a great three days sporting the lambaony - I definitely felt like I flew the flag for all Indian Ocean islanders and am looking forward to doing it again :)

Thank you for a great weekend WOMAD!

wearing | lambaoany as a skirt / sarong (present from Madagascar), underneath: black cut-out leggings (present from mum), black crop top (+H&M), belt (+Topshop), yellow +Converse trainers / black wellies, patchwork jacket (present from Madagascar)

for both Ellie and I - first x2 photos are "by day" and second x2 photos are "by evening"

photos above by Ellie and below by me

THE MUSIC: what we watched & what we thought

1 - 2pm (last half), Open Air stage: La Chiva Gantiva (Colombia/Belgium), "A-grade Latin funk... from Brussels"
Cathia thought: My ever so charming Real Sausage stall employee really didn't like these guys but I actually enjoyed the energetic sounds of La Chiva Gantiva and everybody watching was clearly enjoying it as there was jumping en masse! No photos so check out their video for a feel because I think you'll agree that they are a fun bunch.
Ellie agrees :)

(Lack of photos equals) A taster via YouTube: "Pelao" by La Chiva Gantiva

2 - 3pm (first half), Siam stage: Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (Italy), "Steamy hot pizzica to go!"
Cathia thought: This group are an impressive and very talented set of musicians. I was in awe straight from the get-go both at their skills and consistent level of high energy. Although I really enjoyed what we saw, I actually walked away thinking I would probably prefer to see Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino in a more intimate venue - so maybe my next stop: Italy?
Ellie thought: This band's intensity was captivating but perhaps would have been more suited for an evening slot. The tambourinist was spectacular - I hadn't really considered the skill it took to play one before now.

2 - 3pm (last half), Charlie Gillett stage: The Bombay Royale (India/Australia), "Bollywood goes Tarantino..."
Cathia thought: At this point, Ellie and I had got distracted by henna before we even got to the stage but from what I heard the sounds were very Bollywood and fun! This group is meant to have some amazing costumes and stage presence too so it was a shame we both have the attention span of a one year old :)
Ellie thought: Smooth sounds but more traditional than I'd expected. They had a great vibe nonetheless and it was very appropriate to have in the background whilst having our henna done!

(Lack of photos equals) A taster via YouTube: "You Me Bullets Love" by The Bombay Royale

3 - 4pm, Open Air stage: Gocoo (Japan), "Tokyo's self-proclaimed *tribal groove orchestra*"
Cathia thought: What an amazing bunch of women. I would say that this is not for the faint hearted as it's very loud but I really enjoyed the drum rhythms of these fierce sounding and musically fantastic taiko drummers. Go girls!
Ellie thought: The women were tiny but powerful to the extreme. The whole crowd got caught up in the resonating beats that seemed to hypnotise.

4 - 5pm, Charlie Gillett stage: Christine Salem (Réunion), "Maloya's most strident female voice"
Cathia thought: I was recommended to watch Christine Salem by my dad because being an island girl means island sounds from the Indian Ocean seem to always resonate with me. It was a great recommendation too because I could not stop dancing and felt like I had been transported back to the beautiful Réunion island.
Ellie thought: The constant threat of rain did not dampen this performance. The trio were very engaged with the audience in a way that was rather intimate which really drew in the listeners.

5 - 6pm (first half), Open Air stage: Asif Ali Khan (Pakistan), "Sufi devotional music of the highest order"
Cathia thought: I have always found Sufi music very calming and have fond memories of listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (who incidentally mentored Asif Ali Khan) growing up. I am a relatively spiritual person and there is something about the rhythm and sound of Sufi music that just takes you to higher place - a feeling I can only describe as similar to meditation. I'm sure his mentor would be proud as Asif Ali Khan's performance was nothing short of beautiful.
Ellie thought: This group delivered a surprisingly modern performance mixing the very traditional devotion with accessible modern sounds. I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would!

7.15 - 8.30pm, Open Air stage: Mokoomba (Zimbabwe), "The best new band from Zimbabwe in years"
Cathia thought: The programme tagline said it all - Mokoomba really are the best new band from Zimbabwe and such a treat to watch. Powerful voices, captivating rhythms and the best dance moves I have seen in a long while. I would definitely say go and watch them if you get the chance - I will be very surprised if they don't have you smiling and dancing away in seconds too!
Ellie thought: This is truly a group of born entertainers. Their enthusiasm was infectious and the whole crowd danced along with them, particularly the bassist and guitarist whose interaction was playful as well as highly skilled. Anyone who can guitar solo while doing a dance routine is amaze.

9.30 - 11pm, Open Air stage: Gilberto Gil (Brazil), "The Pelé of Brazilian song"
Cathia thought: When I think of Brazilian music, I immediately conjure up happy faces and catchy beats that I can groove to. Gilberto Gil and his group definitely delivered this and there was no doubt that this talented, young-at-heart veteran has a strong following (and rightly so). However, if I compared Mokoomba's performance to his, I felt it was less raw which almost made the experience more concert than festival.
Ellie thought: Whilst I definitely enjoyed this performance I would agree with Cathia's comments. I felt more like a spectator here than with any of the other artists. His professionalism gave us laughs as well as tunes to move to, he really is a rocking septuagenarian.

28 July 2013

give me sunshine

WOMAD festival, day two

Ellie arrived today! Day two at WOMAD was really fun (rain or shine). Though we ended up missing headliners Arrested Development due to being completely cold and wet, Saturday overall offered a really good line up - Ellie and I danced away through every act and had a great time. Such a shame the rains descended but luckily the rest of the day was so good that this didn't dampen our mood!

This year, I've decided to take the traditional Malagasy cloth called a lambaoany and wear it in three different ways across the Womad weekend. Yesterday's style was as a topSaturday's style is: as a dress. I think this style means you get to see most of the pattern and print on the full lambaoany and is actually my personal favourite way of wearing it. In warm weather, it's light yet practical :) Again, paired with my festival favourites: run around trainers (later swapped for wellies!) and mfloral headband.

wearing | lambaoany as a dress (present from Madagascar), black cut-out leggings (present from mum), yellow +Converse trainers, belt (+Topshop)

photos above by Ellie and below by me unless otherwise stated

THE MUSIC: what we watched & what we thought

1 - 2pm, Open Air stage: Flavia Coelho (Brazil), "where samba-reggae meets ragga"
Cathia thought: Saturday's line up definitely started with high energy thanks to Flavia Coelho "Brazilian born, African blood". Flavia is a feisty singer as well as a great ragga MC and definitely got me in the mood for dancing.
Ellie thought: "Larger than life" stage personality - her performance was really engaging but she seemed a bit of a nutter!

3 - 4pm, Open Air stage: Dizu Plaatjies and Ibuyambo Ensemble (South Africa), "South Africa's musical guardian supreme"
Cathia thought: Probably one of my favourite performances this festival - led by a charismatic leader, this group felt like such a treat to watch. Again high levels of energy, incredibly humble and fantastic musicians taking the audience on a journey through the traditional musical heartland of Africa and their native South Africa. I can't wait to see these guys again!
Ellie thought: This group really blended traditional African instruments and music styles with a modern flair for entertainment. The mix of dance, song and instrumental meant I didn't have a second to get bored and wanted more up to the very end.

From 4pm, it started to rain heavily so no photos :(

5 - 6pm, Open Air stage: Osibisa (Ghana/Antigua/Jamaica/USA), "reconvened veterans of vintage sunshine grooves"
Cathia thought: At this point rain had descended onto Womad but Osibisa led us through the downpour with positive messages and sounds. Umbrella overhead, I was dancing from the moment they began playing to the very end. Despite the rain, I definitely felt like I had been transported to a sunny state.
Ellie thought: My favourites were the soulful uplifting anthems.

7 - 8.15pm, Open Air stage: Rokia Traoré (Mali), "Africa's most soulful and sensitive singer-songwriter"
Cathia thought: Rokia already sits amongst my favourite African artists list before this performance and she didn't disappoint - her voice was beautiful as always and the grooves kept the rained-on crowd going.
Ellie thought: Beautiful and mellow with a little CA-CAW!

8.15 - 9.30pm, Siam stage: Babylon Circus (France), "French ska that goes more than one step beyond"
Cathia thought: What a FUN band! This group reminded me of how much I actually love ska and don't listen to it enough these days. This is proper party and dancing music.
Ellie thought: With a circus theme that sat just on the right side of kitsch and seriously catchy tunes that made a great opportunity to jump about to dry off / warm up after a thoroughly wet afternoon.

27 July 2013

it's festival time

WOMAD festival, day one

Ever since my first time coming to WOMAD festival at age seven, I have always looked forward to the last weekend in July because it would be Womad time! Why do I get excited? Because it is just the friendliest, most welcoming and highly educational (yes you can still learn at festivals) places. You get exposed to music, arts and cultures from all over the world - usually from the best in the business too - and you get to do that in a super relaxed environment. Plus, there is always great food which you know is close to my heart :)

Every year I've come to Womad, I try to have a theme to my outfits. I've had anything from butterfly wings to glitter to fluorescent ridiculousness. This year, I wanted to pack light and do something I've always wanted to do - I've decided to take the traditional Malagasy cloth called a lambaoany and wear it in three different ways. Friday's style is: as a top. I've tried to show off one of my favourite patterns - the heart flower - and paired it with some fun shorts, a floral headband I originally made for Gina & Ian's wedding and my favourite run around trainers :)

wearing | lambaoany as a top (present from Madagascar), black leather shorts (Zara), green frilly socks (+Topshop) & yellow +Converse 

THE MUSIC: what I watched & what I thought

3 - 4pm, Open Air stage: Jagwa Music (Tanzania), "breakneck grooves from Dar es Salaam"
This was a good first gig to dip my toes into. Nice rhythms, really happy and lovely people performing on stage and very relaxed under the hot sun.

4 - 5pm, Siam stage: Ondatropica (Colombia), "pan-generational celebration of Colombian music"
I am a big fan of South American music because it's always managed to get me dancing and is just plain fun to listen to. This band didn't disappoint, I was grooving away and really enjoyed the vibes on stage. Plus, their matchy matchy outfits made me smile :)

5 - 6pm, Big Red Tent: Spoek (South Africa), "futuristic transnational electro"
This was one of my "I have no idea what this is but based on the blurb sounds interesting" and I soon found out that interesting was an understatement. Spoek is led by a talented young man dressed in some of the most standout outfits I've seen on stage (think Kanye West Lady Gaga merge) and their music is a mix between techno, hip hop and funk. It was a mix I'm not used to hearing but I liked it! Potential future sound of popular music?

6 - 7pm, Siam stage: Tamikrest (Mali), "the desert blues heirs apparent"
Desert blues from the Sahara region is music very close to my heart thanks to the discovery of a band called Tinariwen at Womad several years ago. The only way I can explain how I feel when I listen to this style of music is that it literally transports me to the desert as if I'm walking with the nomadic Tuareg to our next destination. Tamikrest did just that :)

7 - 8pm, Open Air stage: Lee "Scratch" Perry & Max Romeo (Jamaica), "joint helping of top-table reggae royalty"
This was probably the most surreal gig I've been to in a while. I've heard some of Lee "Scratch" Perry before and reggae is again one of the music genres which I really enjoy but at times I felt like the entertainment was more about the performer rather than the music. Either way, it was pretty entertaining  (particularly when Lee "Scratch" Perry apparently told Womad security to go away!) and both Max Romeo & Lee "Scratch" Perry are reggae legends.

9.30 - 11pm, Open Air stage: Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (Nigeria), "the Afrobeat prince who would be king..."
Seun Kuti is dubbed "the Prince of AfroBeat" as he is the son of legendary Fela Kuti, King of AfroBeat. This genre is another one really close to my heart because when I hear it I can't help but dance. It's really addictive! I had high expectations already going into this gig based on Seun Kuti's background - and am so so happy that he not only met but exceed my expectations. This was probably one of the best performances I have ever seen - the energy was high the whole set (plus Seun had some great moves), I couldn't stop dancing and Seun just owned the stage like his father did back in the day. I'm sure Fela would be so proud.

25 July 2013

representing africa

It is nearly Womad festival time - 2 days and counting - and I am getting really excited! This week's nailspiration started off as wanting to draw "the world" in homage to world music, dance and culture. After a relatively long (and unnecessary) internal debate, I decided that only my thumbs would fit a continent slash I would get bored trying focus on to getting perfect continents onto the rest of my fingers - and here is the result. I decided to go with the African continent on both thumbs (purely based on the fact that it is my home continent) but I love music from all over the world so I promise that will by no means be biased what I listen to over the coming weekend!

I'm also going to try out a different and fun outfit post as part of my coverage of the long weekend at Womad so watch this space :)

nails | base: blue moon & dots/Africa: emerald green (both Barry M)

23 July 2013

zen in the city

It has been a fun-fuelled few days - from team bonding at Vinopolis to the company summer ball to girls night out - and I definitely felt like I needed a day of rest on Sunday. What better place to go than the amazing Book & Kitchen in Notting Hill (between Ladbroke Grove & Westbourne Park tube stations), a true hidden gem which Asad and I stumbled upon on a trip to Notting Chill way back in April. It is a genuine little oasis from the busy lives we lead in and around London town and we couldn't wait to go back and visit the lovely Muna for some zen-time. Book & Kitchen is relatively new (opened in March 2013) and I wanted to capture why I think it's really worth a visit.

wearing | dress, bag (Zara), boots & frill-edged pink socks (Topshop), rings (Accessorize), watch (Storm), bangle (present from mum)

Above photos by +Asad and below by me

The concept behind Book & Kitchen is simple - it merges owner Muna's love for books with delicious food. Primarily, it is a bookshop. As you walk into the front door you enter an airy open plan room and immediately something will grab your attention whether it's the books, the beautifully restored and re-upholstered armchairs or the photographs on the walls. The room almost gives off an instant impact of peacefulness, yet has so many intriguing elements to grab your curiousity. It's a place where you can really browse and look or just find a little corner to read and have the afternoon pass by. Plus, if you get your teeth stuck into something good then you can also buy alongside some other fun trinkets like books-necklaces or moustache mugs (below).

The element I like most about Book & Kitchen and what makes it so different is that the books are just as important as the food! In addition to running the bookshop, Muna also makes the most delicious home made food which is served downstairs in the more cafe-like area and in the garden. The idea is that once you've got your good book, you can then sit down and enjoy reading over a summer salad, a savoury muffin or slice of almond cake. Muna also serves fair trade coffee from around the world (my favourite is the Sumatran!) in individual caffetieres as well as a variety of proper teas and juices. On this particular visit, I tried her carrot & spinach muffin and then later had an early dinner of grilled salmon with 3 types of salad - baby gem with green beans and white currants, jewelled couscous with pink peppercorns and a carpaccio of cucumber and radish. Everything was just YUMMY and the perfect summer dish :)

What else does Muna's little bookshop offer? Well, if you hadn't already guessed by my pictures, for me it really shines through how every item has its perfect place in Book & Kitchen. The level of detail just speaks volumes about the amount of love and time it's taken to clearly make this place have its lovely atmosphere. Every picture, book, chair, lamp and pot of flowers has been placed purposefully and with stylish execution. I could (and I'm sure you could too) spend hours just looking around and discovering new elements that make this place a home away from home.

I really like Muna's little hidden zen-space in Notting Hill. If the pictures haven't lured you to pop by and visit yet then I would just say take my word for it: in a busy place like London, places like Muna's are an absolute find when you just want to escape for calm and get some time out to think. If you don't believe me then you'll just have to go and find out for yourself and let me know what you think!