Tag Archives: vicky gayle

Quick tips for when you need a reminder that you’re special

When I took the photo below of two diverging paths, I internally captioned it ‘a metaphor for my life’.

Cliché, I know, especially as it’s not that I have a dilemma forcing me to choose either or – it’s the choice of throwing myself at life and making things happen, or continuing to feel resentful because they’re not.

20170305_141513.jpg

Iyanla Vanzant, and I’m sure many others too said, everything you’ve acquired in life so far is a manifestation of what you’ve been able to create with the knowledge you have. If I measure my current situation and accomplishments by those words, I’ve done amazingly well, but I know I was meant for more. What has hindered my success in all areas of my life is fear and damaged self-esteem. Perhaps like me you’ve had the same negative self-talk for so long you feel trapped, and have begun to realise nobody sees you because of it. Who I am in my mind is not the person most people experience, and this is what I’m attempting to address without costly talking therapies – although I remain a staunch advocate of the practice.

“If you look underneath your depression, you’ll find anger. Look under your anger and you’ll find sadness. And under sadness is the root of it all; what’s really masquerading all the while – fear.” Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert.

The term ‘self-love’ may sound airy and vague, but how much you value yourself governs every thought and therefore every decision you make. However you prefer to term it, the concept can’t be ignored so I guess I’m on a self-love mission of sorts. Millions of other people around the world and I often don’t feel very special so I thought sharing what I’m doing to correct this, would be an ideal starting point.

Reiterate who you are

At times I forget who I am. My motivations, likes, dislikes, values etcetera, all merge into the 50,000 thoughts a day I’m apparently having and the humdrum of working. I love writing everything down (clearly!) so I started a mind-map with a bubble in the middle of an A5 page: ‘Who am I?’ It’s almost a summing up of what makes me ‘me’ – my qualities, interests, and my best bits – make it visible to you on a daily basis.

Be honest

However unfavourable, admit to what you’re feeling and experiencing. Be honest about your behaviour or negative habits because you need to understand the cause to effect the outcome. One of the key things I’ve had to be honest about is jealousy, which is borne from a lack of fulfilment. It sounds awful but it’s a change signal for me. Another is dedication issues. What are yours?

Think back

A lot of the passion I had in my youth has disintegrated. I exist, but I don’t live. However, much of what moves me hasn’t changed, it’s just I no longer, or don’t, do them. So think back to the original source of motivation, the purpose for doing, because remembering and feeling it again can be really helpful.

What do you do? Share some of your self-love practices and tips by commenting below so we can add to this working progress. While you’re at it, watch this TED talk.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT – Exhibit B: Art That Shook Black Britain

‘A guilty pleasure,’ ‘grotesque parody,’ ‘highly confrontational, but yet exquisitely beautiful,’ Exhibit B: Art That Shook Black Britain, captures the public outcry that followed one man, Brett Bailey, from South Africa to London.

Known for his radical explorations into post-colonial Africa, the white South African artist crafts exhibitions to his audience who span across the world, ‘turning the gaze back on Europeans’ he says, in order to challenge the atrocities of colonialism and slavery.

Exhibit B, the second in what was a three-part series of human installations featuring live black actors, was met with critical acclaim at the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival, but when news broke that it was making its way to London’s Barbican Arts Centre in September last year, the Black community was outraged; sparking protests and national debates on an unimaginable scale. 

On the surface #BoycottTheHumanZoo – the campaign that lit the match on this already volatile art offering, appeared to be an us versus them scenario – ‘them’ being the creators, the elite institutions and financial supporters of Bailey’s work and ’us’ – angry Black people. However what I found while researching is that the Black community were sincerely hurt; not only by the flippancy expressed by these art powerhouses but at their history being presented, yet again, by an outsider. To describe it simply as black and white would undermine the wider issues that arise, which could potentially compromise the entire arts industry. If artistic freedom is to remain intact, is there ever a place for censorship? Should there be boundary lines for fear of treading on another culture’s toes? 

I spent one afternoon in London on the opening day of Exhibit B in search of conversations to help gauge public opinion. What became clear midway is that the answers remained elusive, but this event would become pivotal to future discussions in and around race, history and UK arts. 

See below for further reading…

Vicky Gayle: Facebook/ TwitterRafel Thompson: Twitter

*Brett Bailey on his controversial art serial.

*VIDEO: Sara Myers calls for people to sign the petition.

*Nitro – the Arts organisation who casted the actors and models.

*Akala speaks out on the Huffington Post.

*The Barbican criticises the ‘extreme nature’ of protesters.

*The performers respond.

Birmingham woman pours grief into fiction novel and speaks up about knife attacks after losing brother

After keeping it a secret from her family, the sister of a stabbed Birmingham man today launched debut novel, The Life He Chose, raising awareness of the reality of knife crime.

image1

Candace Bertram, 27, lost her brother, father-to-be Leon Francis in 2007 when he was murdered by a friend, within a year of him being released from prison where he served over five years.

The mum-of-one with a daughter, began writing five years later to cope with her grief and dispel the myths around knife violence.

She said: “We’re fed that it’s just gangsters who get stabbed but anyone could be victim of senseless attacks, that aren’t just with knives. No matter how you’re raised or who you’re around, it’s about making the right decisions.

Source: The Birmingham Mail

Source: The Birmingham Mail

“Leon dying so unexpectedly and in a way that was happening to so many males at that time inspired me to spread a message, but this book isn’t inspired by his life or to glorify it because there’s so much that I didn’t know.

“He was a family man and someone that we looked up to.”

An ‘everyday story’ aimed at 16-30-year-olds, the crime drama novel centres on the relationship between Jay and girlfriend Lauryn, who is blissfully unaware of his dangerous street life.

The plot explores subjects like love, infidelity, crime and loyalty, but also tackles more sensitive and ‘complex’ issues such as sex, siblings with different fathers and biracial identity.

She said: “Jay lives his life how he wants to while Lauryn stays at home and reaps the benefits with expensive everything, but she’s happy to live that life because she has no self-worth.

“He doesn’t respect her and Lauryn has distanced herself from her family, she has just one friend, so she doesn’t know where to turn.

”When she does try to make a change in her life, it ends in tragedy.”

Candace shielded her parents from the book because they had been ‘dragged to Mars and back with grief and upset’ over their son’s death.

Now that they’ve read it, they’re said to be ‘really happy and proud’.

She said: “It’s nearly eight years now and it’s not getting any easier because it’s something we’ll never accept, but my anger towards his death got left at the door a long time ago.

“I think if Leon could come back and give me a message he’d be pleased that something positive came out of it and probably ask why I didn’t put him in it for his five minutes of fame.”

Candace wants the self-published book to feature as a set text on the English curriculum and aspires to deliver workshops in schools and colleges nationwide.

She said: “I’m hoping that in the future it will be adapted into a play or film because I’m a visual learner, so the next step would be turning it into something people can watch.

Already talking of a sequel, Candace is also planning a UK tour in the new year, with the next stop being London, where the novel is set.

The Life He Chose is available to buy here.

Website/ Facebook/ Twitter

MUSIC INTERVIEW: Lucan Mills – The rapper from Winchester who vows to always keep it real and acoustic

Rap that sears its way forcibly through a blues band while at the same time overwhelms you to close your eyes and sway, is a winning combination when executed properly.

Winchester rapper and songwriter Lucan Mills, whose debut EP Level 1 awaits its official iTunes release – 10 years on from gracing stages as a support act for Tinie Tempah and G Unit – marks the beginning of a new chapter for the 26-year-old.

To keep the music in its rawest form, Lucan has composed his own sound – an uptempo fusion of hip hop, jazz and funk – weaved together with realism and lyrics that puncture each note played by his seven-piece band. More than two years in the making ‘without them the live shows wouldn’t be what they are,’ Lucan admitted, and they go by the names: Graham Henderson (Bass); Alex Villar (Guitar); Louis Yalaz (Drums); Jen Watson (Saxophone); Kit Marsden/ Herty Hill/ Jacob Stoney (Keys); and James Tashario (Vocals).

In the lead up to national tour dates, the first being tomorrow at MK Dons Stadium, myself and Lucan had a lot to talk about – like how he learnt to rap so quick, the ‘weird’ music industry, and why he’ll be forever grateful to the likes of David Bowie and Jay Z.

IMG_1138 small

Now you’re from Winchester but my geography is poor, so I can see that it’s kind of close to London. Was music a bit part of the scene growing up there?

Well Craig David was Southampton based and it was very much the garage and hip hop scene down there growing up. He would emcee in a club called Rhino, which I did too a few years after, so there was definitely a buzz around it and everybody listened to the music – but don’t get me wrong, I was probably the only one rapping in my school at the time so that was different.

You must have definitely stood out then.

That’s a good way to put it! Especially back then it wasn’t as widely accepted as it is now so I definitely got ‘but you’re white’ all the time and people would take the mick, but I’m still doing it now so that faded off over the years.

What was your response to that ignorance?

Back then I used to just laugh it off. I loved doing it so much and knew that I could do it, that I just ignored it and got on with it. But when I got to college and was making more tracks, people understood that this is what I wanted to do and accepted it.

Listening to your voice now, you don’t sound like how you rap – you rap quite hard which reminds me of grime. Did you take influences from grime when you were crafting your sound initially?

100 percent. I’m a massive Kano fan and when I was growing up, he was just lyrically brilliant and in the US – Jay Z and Eminem were the biggest influences for me. I would study their tracks, not just their lyrics but it was more about flow, and I was also listening to a lot of UK grime. I can switch between all of them, it just depends what beat I’m listening to, but at the same time I’m very careful because people will say I’m not a grime artist. There’s a fine line between what’s going to be credible and believable.

I understand that. You mentioned Kano and Jay Z – were they the rappers that you would imitate when you were developing your rap skills and speed?

Definitely, some of the early tracks I learnt like So Ghetto, a really old track off one of Jay Z’s first albums and Imaginary Player, all those songs about flow and lyrics, and the way he would change tempo was similar to Eminem and Kano in P’s and Q’s. It was all about tempo for me at the same time as being lyrically impressive and thinking quick on my feet. David Bowie was also a big influence for me, I went to a show of his just before he’d finished touring. I’d listened to Bowie all my life because my dad was a huge fan and I took a lot in from watching how he’d perform and his stage presence.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 23.25.40

You probably get told often that your music is distinctive but there’s obviously been some conscious decisions you’ve made to achieve that sound.

It was difficult because when I first started making music I would rap over mixtape beats and other people’s stuff but with my own music, I was always very conscious that I wanted to have a live band. So once I’d made that decision it was a case of bringing together really good musicians who wanted to be part of it. I spent a long time crafting the sound – adding saxophone, having keys and synths – and trying to incorporate everything together to give it a live jazz feel that’s funky and different, at the same time as keeping the hip hop element strong. I’m still working on it – it’s constantly evolving but it took a while to get the sound that we have now.

IMG_1160 smallHow is it that you and the band work together because there’s a lot of creative heads to factor in?

It’s mad, when I first got them together I had my songs, we’d go into a room and go through them all but it’s different with a production track. You’ve got the band that play it but then I very much wanted their input into the music as well, so the tracks completely changed from the production version that we had into the live version. What you hear on the EP now is not what they originally were and with all these creative people as you say, they all had a different flavour that they wanted to bring to the table. Those songs evolved over a year or so before I actually went in and re-recorded the EP from scratch live. It’s a real collaboration of ideas but I want to take it even further because there’s so much that we can do to merge the live and electronic sound together and make something huge.

One of the songs I really like on the EP is Stay Lucky. Although it’s not the lead single, it’s very pretty and heartfelt – where was your head at when you wrote and recorded it?

That song I wrote originally as a poem, it was never a song. I can’t even remember what inspired the rhythm or what beat I was listening to, it was just a block of writing, but I loved the words so much that when I first started performing live with just me and a guy on piano, I got him to play this nice riff and I would rap the lyrics, almost like spoken word. I carried on doing that for a year maybe more and it just evolved. It wasn’t until a few months before I did the EP that I decided I wanted it to be a proper song and literally within a few seconds I came up with the Stay Lucky chorus, which stemmed from a story with my granddad and this ring he gave me with a horseshoe on it. The chorus isn’t complicated but it really fitted the tone of my singer’s voice. It’s one of James’ favourite songs to sing, who is my vocalist when we perform live, but on the EP it’s Wadé singing.

You’ve been gigging over summer and on the 31st October you’re playing at the MK Stadium so @menmademusic asked on Twitter if you’re an MK Dons FC supporter?

I’ve actually got a season ticket for MK Dons because my dad used to live in Milton Keynes and when they got promoted to the championships it was a really good deal. I haven’t had a chance to go to many games recently because I’ve been away, which is annoying, but I’ll be at the home game with the band. It’s a good atmosphere when I’ve been so to be asked to perform there is really cool and random because I don’t know how they knew I was even a musician – but it should be a good day.

Tell me about Ed Sheeran – you performed on stage with him and I know it was a lucky coincidence.

I was at a night in Clapham a couple of years ago and Jamal Edwards from SBTV came in and had bought Ed along. A mate of mine was running the night at the time and I happened to be sat chatting to him [Ed] about it. He went on stage to perform You Need Me and then he said, ‘I want to call some rappers up I was chatting to earlier’ and I had to take the opportunity when it was there, so I jumped up on stage and made it up as I went along. I’ve got the video forever so hopefully if I meet him again, I’ll show it to him.

Most artists have a bigger vision and motivation for why they’re an artist, what would you say that yours is?

I just know it’s what I’ve always wanted to do from the minute I can remember – the pictures of me putting headphones on, strumming away on a tennis racket watching Bowie on the TV when I was about four. My vision has always been to be respected for doing what I love and if another rapper turns around and says, ‘You know what? You’re a brilliant rapper’ – that’s my dream. When you see artists like Ed Sheeran sell out Wembley and the crowd are chanting the songs – just pure respect for your talent – that would be special. It’s not about the money. I know people say that all the time, it’s a boring cliche, but money can only go so far. If I could have a massive crowd of people all singing my songs and actually the songs do something for them, that would be everything to me.

And what stadium would you love to sell out?

Oh, Hollywood Bowl, Wembley, Coachella, Glastonbury – but for now Brixton Academy would be awesome.

For tickets to see Lucan Mills headline at Bloomsbury Lanes, London for their Hot Vox music launch night click here.

Website/ Twitter/ /Instagram

Collaborative marketing project in Birmingham launches new magazine

Earlier this week when I came across Forge Magazine, it was described as ‘interactive’ and something that aimed to highlight creative talent across the Midlands, from varying disciplines – but I had no idea what to expect.

What I later found out is that Forge wasn’t founded by a single individual, despite what I thought initially, but in fact a collective of young marketers who themselves have formed The Icing Agency, under the Mac Birmingham’s ongoing Next Generation Project.

A scheme designed to offer young people aged between 14 and 30 opportunities to learn and break into the creative industries, the Next Generation Creative Agency produced Forge – a slick collection of insightful features, illustration and photography.

Source: Twitter @tombirduk

Source: Twitter @tombirduk

Ashleigh Moore, the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, though she was keen to point out it was a joint effort between some 10 plus contributors, explained that it was important for Forge to create a publication for emerging creatives and something that would benefit this demographic.

She said: “Sometimes they just need that platform, that little thing that says, ‘Look I’m here’ which will then take them forward.

“We also wanted to give a broad overview of the creative opportunities that are available and the ways you can get into the creative industries so everyone put their heads down and thought about them, what they were passionate about.

“When you look through you’ll see that each person has contributed to this.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 17.16.03

Ashleigh Moore addressing the intimate audience. Source: Twitter @KristinaOMedia

With the magazine’s layout designed by Fused Media – the publishers responsible for the renowned culture bible, Fused – Art Director, Anya Jung created Forge’s iconic cover illustration and designed the exclusive black and white sleeve which was available at the launch.

She said: “It was a collaborate between me and Louise Byng, who works at the Mac, we really wanted to create something pleasing to look at but not too high brow, we didn’t want to go into contemporary art magazine style at all.

“We were influenced by wrap magazine which is an illustrated magazine and also Oh Comely magazine which is lovely – we like it quite a lot.”

To find out more about what was a mysterious new offering in Birmingham’s print world, I spoke with both Ashleigh and Anya, for a not so ‘random’ podcast. (My phrase on the audio, not theirs.)

For more information about the Next Generation programme click here.

To request a free copy of Forge magazine head to their Facebook page.

Two months in Manchester and still no friends – a snapshot of being in a new city

When moving away from home, a huge expectation tags along with the experience that it’s going to be life changing.

Sourced from: Weheartit.com

Sourced from: Weheartit.com

A new city offered new surroundings, to be enjoyed without boundaries when I left my parents, friends and everybody who knows me to become a stranger elsewhere.

It’s a liberating thought when you take a minute to reflect on it: being a stranger to every new person you encounter. Having the freedom to create a whole new existence or persona is inspiring. That’s what I felt before making the 86 mile trip in February and last Sunday afternoon, when I really considered the possibilities of what I could get up to, but as the headline suggests, there has been no rebirth, which is a little bit embarrassing.

Since migrating I’m habitually asked the question: “How’s Manchester?” and my response varies depending on who I’m reporting back to and how honest I’m being. Either I deflect the answer onto my course with a false display of overt joy: ‘It’s alright you know!’ or offset my true feelings with lightheartedness: ‘It’s cool thanks but I can’t tell you how Manchester is as I haven’t socialised since I’ve been here!’ – still with exclamation marks.

And it is fine. I get illegal free tram rides to the supermarket and back, have experienced no crime or racial abuse in deprived and all-Caucasian Salford, and there have even been advantages to my temporary poverty, like a diminished sweet tooth, but I exist within a hamster cage.

In fact I just dropped my old hamster cage into a new location. Some of this I anticipated and is necessary to achieve the results I intended. Venturing to Manchester was a purposeful decision, not frivolous, but there’s this niggling feeling of disappointment that I’ve not made more of it here when I’m dying to just initiate myself into some underground subculture or get involved in something that breaks me away from myself.

At the weekend, however, I was told sympathetically to go easy, “You’ve just moved. Everything you need to experience will come in due course,” which is perfectly logical advice. In the meantime though I’m looking for inspiration and content for new blogs with item number one being the London leg of the World Naked Bike Ride on 13 June 2015.

If I can secure an interview with the original founders/ organisers of the event then I plan to follow up with a news article so check back for that.

Cycling around Central London naked should be fun but much better with body paint to mask my clitoria – a flower with an uncanny resemblance to the vagina, but not the only one. (Click it) So on my to-do list is finding a bike, a creative individual who’d like to paint me and possibly a flesh-coloured thong.

Crowdfunding talk on BBC West Midlands’ Chatback show

No selfies with the presenters, I settled with hugs during the break but  the guest room was perfect for a snap.

No selfies with the presenters, I settled with hugs during the break but the guest room was perfect for a snap.

A friend of mine asked on Saturday night if I was weird and practised my interview responses in the mirror like her, to which I replied: “Out loud, yes! You have to!” and I did, hoping that Chatback’s Joe Aldred or Nikki Tapper didn’t open the interview with: “So tell me about the campaign” because that leaves far too much window to trip over my words. Thankfully the veteran presenters have much better style than that and gave me a wonderful introduction which calmed my nerves somewhat.

If you’re unaware, just recently I launched a campaign to raise £1700 remaining course fees for journalism school in Manchester. Utilising my editorial skills I’m approaching contacts old and new for commissions, with all profits going straight to my campaign. Meanwhile I’m crowdfunding so that hopefully with the two combined, I can just focus on my studies.

It was great being able to share what I’m trying to achieve as I don’t tend to often, and while there met another guest on the show, Lenise Harris, founder of the Women’s Reform Organisation. A ‘non profit organisation delivering holistic support to vulnerable women at risk of crime or reoffending upon release from prison’, the charity is in its infancy and born from Lenise’s own experiences of vulnerability as a young female which sparked a desire to help others as she became older. To help grow the West Midlands organisation, Lenise is actively looking for volunteers to support with areas such as mentoring, outreach and marketing so for more on her tune in at 01.07 – 01.11 or go to: www.womensreform.org.

Thank you to everybody who listened live and for any who weren’t able to, you have 28 days starting from now to catch it on BBC iPlayer. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nhr5f#auto (Skip straight to 45.15 – 55.27 for my segment)