You Got The Look 2

Ask a musician to put on their favourite outfit and what do you get?

BASIA BULAT

(shot at the S&M Cafe, 268 Portobello Road, London W10 / HYPERLINK "http://www.sandmcafe.co.uk/"www.sandmcafe.co.uk)


Basia Bulat is from London, Ontario. We tracked her down in London, England to talk about frocks, high heels, hats and her debut album ‘Oh, My Darling’.

Where are we?

We’re at a sausage and mash place called S&M in Notting Hill. I’ve only been in town a week but I came here the other day and thought it was a really nice 50s type diner.

What are you wearing?

I’ve brought along two dresses. The first one is a peachy vintage dress I got at Portobello Market. It’s kind of fun with a nice swooshy skirt. The other one is dark green with beading by a label called Margo. Both have got a good feeling.

Describe your style.

It changes from season to season. In Canada we get a lot of snow so I wear a lot of big warm boots. But as soon as it gets relatively warm I switch to skirts and dresses.

I love vintage clothing. Back home in London, Ontario you get some great finds in Salvation Army shops and thrift stores. It seems in small towns they had great style 30 years ago and the clothes are still around. I also like getting lost in markets and finding something that speaks to me. It’s like you’ve discovered a treasure.

In high school I showed up once head to toe in brown suede. It was a suede vest over a suede shirt with a suede skirt and suede boots. And if you can picture that also add a suede backpack and suede h

What’s your weakness?

Hats. I went shopping the other day and found a hat I thought was perfect and then realised I had another one just like it at home. Impractical hats can be fun just to have and hang up. I also like heels as I’m kind of small. Everyone else in the band is taller than me so heels keep me from looking too out of proportion.

Favourite item of clothing?

A tank top my grandmother made for me years ago. Even after all this time she still gets teary when she sees me wear it. She was a seamstress and always made her own clothes. There are these really neat photos of her in the 60s wearing a new dress every week to go out dancing. She’s slowly teaching me but I’m terrible at it.

What’s the band’s image?

We like to dress up and coordinate a bit. We’ll say, ‘Okay, do we feel like earth tones?’ or ‘Let’s wear shirts’. It’s important to wear something different to every day because it gets you in the right state of mind. We haven’t gone for any actual costumes yet but we’re friends with British Sea Power who wear a lot of costumes and when we went to visit them in Brighton we went on stage in a giant white sheet.

Who’s in the band?

There’s myself who sings and plays guitar and autoharp. Holly plays ukulele and sings. Dave plays viola and sings. Sebastian plays cello and sings. Eric plays piano and sings.

Seojan plays violin, Katie plays flute. And my brother Bobby does percussion.

A musical family!

Yeah, my mum’s a piano teacher. When we were kids we didn’t realise there was more than one radio station so we listened to a lot of Motown and 60s pop all day long. I got into jazz as a teenager and then discovered Pavement and Belle And Sebastian and all that sort of stuff.

How did your album ‘Oh, My Darling’ come together?

Everyone goes to a school for music together so there are so many people around to record with. Holly and me are my roommates and Sebastian, Eric and Katie all live together. So we’d go to one another’s houses and make music. The album was all recorded on floors but it sounds truthful to the way we play together.

Describe the sound.

It’s… it’s… it’s, um, like, every song is a little bit different and has its own personality. The way I write songs is not planned. Something comes into my head, a certain word will suggest itself and then I have to figure out what the song is meant to be about. It’s hard to explain, you just have to hear it.

How did you sign to Rough Trade?

When I’d finished the record, my friend Howard Bilerman (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Arcade Fire) who is phenomenal to work with and a wonderful mentor to me, found it a good home. I never intended it to have a commercial release so I feel very lucky having people connect to it. It sounds a bit rosy I know, but it’s a dream come true.

‘Oh, My Darling’ is out now on Rough Trade

HYPERLINK "http://www.myspace.com/basiamyspace"www.myspace.com/basiamyspace

EMILY HAINES

(shot in Piccadilly Circus, London W1)

Metric and Broken Social Circle front woman Emily Haines goes it alone for her heartfelt solo album ‘Knives Don’t Have Your Back’. Recorded over four years in LA, Montreal, Toronto and New York with her band The Soft Skeletons, the experience has given her plenty of opportunities to build up a well-loved wardrobe…

We’re in Piccadilly Circus. Why?

My dad (Paul Haines) published a book of his poetry in the 1950s and the cover is a picture of him standing behind a pole in Piccadilly Circus (www.secretcarnivalworkers.com). We’re here to re-enact the scene and it’s been interesting asking local news stand guys how it’s changed since then. We have tried to find the same pole.

What are you wearing today?

Some Acne jeans, a black hoodie and a white T-shirt with a horse on it.

Describe your style.

It’s pretty much vintage wherever possible. I like shopping at Beacon’s Closet in New York and 59 Vintage in Toronto. I like the feeling of finding something with history. I’m usually drawn to 70’s stuff.

What’s your weakness?

It’s actually shoes but I have a strict policy of only buying cheap shoes. I’m not ready for $600 stilettos yet. And I do love my Converse sneakers.

Most prized item of clothing?

My Betsy Johnson leather jacket I bought in New York has stayed with me through many adventures. It’s got a huge rip in the arm. I can’t remember how I ripped it, which says a lot about the state I was in at the time.

Most extravagant purchase?

My problem right now is with expensive denim. The prices keep going up but I do like Acne. I’m trying to get with high-waisted but I haven’t quite embraced it yet.

Latest purchase?

A vintage Gucci handbag. I look at it now and it makes me wonder why. It hasn’t left my house yet. Maybe I’ll use it when I’m older - or in Los Angeles – as a status symbol.

Most regrettable outfit?

In high school I showed up once head to toe in brown suede. It was a suede vest over a suede shirt with a suede skirt and suede boots. And if you can picture that also add a suede backpack and suede hair band to complete the look. My friends were quick to tell me I was drifting.

I read that Einstein only had two outfits that were completely the same because he didn’t want any of his energy absorbed by what he was going to wear. That doesn’t work for me though.

Do you have stage outfits?

With Metric I worked with the designer Claire Edmondson to make a line of jump suits from found fabrics. When you’re on tour for three or four months at a time, you need something comfy to wear and they were great for festivals. But when I’m doing my solo stuff, I’m at the piano so I can just wear street clothes. I don’t have the same responsibility to put on a show.

Have you ever worked with a stylist?

No. At the moment fashion and music are in bed with each other more than ever before. I enjoy clothes but I don’t want to lose track of the fact that I’m a musician and not a model.

How did your solo album come about?

When on tour with Metric, I’d go into the studio and work on these songs whenever I had a moment. At the end of a four-year period I had a complete record. Originally I saw it as a soundtrack to a film. I was inspired by Guy Maddin’s The Saddest Music In The World and wanted to make the musical equivalent of his visuals. I got in touch and he gave me access to all of his films to use as part of my live show. It turns out his daughter is a Metric fan!

‘Knives Don’t Have Your Back’. Nifty title.

It’s a line from the last song on the album, ‘Winning’, which captures the time I was writing about when big changes were happening to everyone I know. It’s a coming of age thing to do with fractured relationships, deception and paranoia and realising that the world is a nasty place but that the people you need are still there for you.

What is the single ‘Doctor Blind’ about?

It’s inspired by the freaky dreamy singing and images of New York in Rosemary’s Baby and is a comment on the fact that everyone in America is on anti-depressants. Companies are marketing directly to the consumer and it’s good timing because we’re all struggling with direction and want to numb the pain with recreational use of pharmaceuticals. In the video you see someone running riot in an all night Walmart having hallucinations.

‘Knives Don’t Have Your Back’ is out now on Drowned In Sound.

www.emilyhaines.com

HYPERLINK "http://www.myspace.com/emilyhaines" www.myspace.com/emilyhaines

EUGENE HUTZ

(shot at TROIJKA, 101 Regents Park Road, Primrose Hill, NW1/ HYPERLINK "http://www.trojka.co.uk/"www.trojka.co.uk)

Gogol Bordello’s moustached main man Eugene Hutz talks us through his unique New York gypsy punk style.

Where are we today?

A Ukrainian restaurant in London. It has quite a classic Eastern European set up. I’m having free dinner for sure.

What are you wearing?

Whatever I picked up from my floor or travelling bag. This is my method of dressing.

Come on, your look cannot be accidental.

It is an entirely spontaneous thing. For me, it just has to match the energy of that particular day. You know, it’s the colours. I’m not going to get all crazy and spiritual here and talk about Kandinsky but there are frequencies of colours that correspond with your mood. The colour of maroon is favoured by gypsies and is closest to my frequencies. Of course I get lucky too and there are crazy fucking clothes I am given that I beat to the ground until I can’t wear them any more.

What’s in your travelling bag at the moment?

It’s all pretty neon I must say, beat up neon. We got purple pants, super skinny style and long Adidas socks that go right over them. It’s how Ukrainian red necks wore it back in the 80s. They had a clueless creativity from being so far removed from any centre of culture that they would end up sticking their pants inside of their socks because it was more comfortable. As kids from the capital of Ukraine, I found it to be incredibly crude and nearly idiotic. Little did I know that was a lesson for the future.

Any favourite items?

I have a scarf made by gypsies in Kosovo, which reminds me of an organisation called Voice of Roma USA that I’m part of. It helps imprisoned gypsies make money by manufacturing clothes and blankets. It’s one of the few things I carry around with me that can turn any room into my home. That’s the power value of that scarf.

Who are your style icons?

I read that Einstein only had two outfits that were completely the same because he didn’t want any of his energy absorbed by what he was going to wear. That doesn’t work for me though.

How do strangers react to your style?

In fashion centrals like London and New York it’s understood but it’s funny to people in Romania or Ukraine. At one club they wouldn’t let me in my own gig because they were convinced I was some lunatic from the top of the hill. They were like, ‘The way you dress is ridiculous. You have to change.’ The irony is that the place was called American and I was the only fucking American in it!

Current tour clothes?

I keep them to a minimum. The more you wear on stage, the more laundry your tour manager has to do. Also fans steal a lot of stuff. Hats just go.

Is that why you often end up naked?

I try as hard as possible to keep my clothes on. It is always my main intent.

What about your band’s image?

We are a collection of characters who all have personal style. Of course, partly there are elements I brought in as part of a stage representation of what Eastern European gypsy punk is. It’s an assault on all levels – music ideology and fashion. My ex girlfriend is a fashion designer and we came up with a lot of forms and shapes for Gogol Bordello. It’s a gypsy punk uniform that gets dishevelled in the trenches of touring. It was interesting growing up because uniforms were a must at school but people’s style still came through in the ways they wore their uniforms. Girls would lie that their families were too broke to buy new uniforms so they could wear a shorter skirt. That was pretty goddamn fun.

Your new album is called ‘Super Taranta!’. Why?

Tarantella is an authentic Italian music invented to cure women of hysteria. The first time I saw a painting about the history of Tarantella, which depicted a woman on the floor in convulsions with musician standing over her with violins, I knew this is what Gogol Bordello was about. It killed me with its sexual mysticism. This album smelts cultures together in a cathartic orgasmo hysteria. There are songs about politics, sex, alcohol or super theories but they are all still connected by that one ultra passionate expression. Super Taranta! is a pretty extreme album and I think it’s ready to take on the world.

‘Super Taranta!’ is out July 9 on Sideonedummy Records

HYPERLINK "http://www.gogolbordello.com" www.gogolbordello.com

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