M.I.A. awarded M.B.E. by Queen of England

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M.I.A. has joined the ranks of the Order of the British Empire. During this weekend’s annual Queen’s Birthday Honors, the musician was named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.).

The Birthday Honours recognize British citizens for their work in their respective fields. This year, M.I.A. (aka Mathangi Arulpragasam) was dubbed an M.B.E. for her “services to music.” (Elvis Costello was given a one-rank higher membership as an O.B.E.)

In a statement posted to Instagram, M.I.A. dedicated the honor to her mother. “She is one of the 2 women in England who hand stitched these medals for the last 30 years,” she wrote. “No matter how I feel or what I think, my Mother was extremely proud of the job she had. It’s a very unique situation for me where I get to honour her most classiest minimum wage job ever.”

She also included the subtle hashtag “#whomademymedal.”

Read M.I.A’s full M.B.E. statement below.

Back in December, M.I.A. unloaded “Reload”, a previously unreleased song from her MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. documentary.


M.I.A. awarded M.B.E. by Queen of England
Ben Kaye

Elvis Costello accepts O.B.E. from Queen of England: “My mom told me to do it”

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Elvis Costello has been recognized as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) for his services to music. The veteran musician announced the “very surprising honour” on his blog, detailing why he chose to accept the award after a long talk with his mother.

After admitting that his first reaction “upon receiving an ‘O.H.M.S.’ letter was, ‘Oh no, they’ve finally tumbled me,’” the “She” crooner noted that he sought counsel from his mother, Lillian MacManus, on whether he should accept. In the post, he explained,

“I began my call by telling my Mam that the Prime Minister, Mrs. May, had put my name forward for an O.B.E. ‘But she’s rubbish’, Lillian cut in before I could complete the news. Well, that aside, I said, ‘Of course, I won’t be accepting the award’.

I didn’t get much further with that statement either. I listened carefully to my mother’s argument that if something is deserved then one must be gracious in acceptance. So, as a good lad, who likes to do what will make his Mam most proud, I knew that I must put old doubts and enmities aside and muster what little grace I possess.”

(Read: 10 Times Elvis Costello’s Aim Was True)

He continued, “Even so, it is hard to receive anything named for the ‘British Empire’, and all that term embodies, without a pause for reflection.” Costello went on to speak about both his grandfathers’ service in World War I and how “it is in memory of those two British Army soldiers and because my Mam told me to do it, that I can proudly accept this award.”

Costello closed statement by noting the irony of being a recipient of such an accolade, joking: “It confirms my long held suspicion nobody really listens to the words in songs or the outcome might have been somewhat different.”

“It would be a lie to pretend that I was brought up to have a great sense of loyalty to the Crown, let alone notions of Empire. I used to think a change might come but when one considers the kind of mediocre entrepreneur who might be foisted upon us as a President, it’s enough to make the most hard-hearted “Republican” long for an ermine stole, a sceptre and an orb.

To be honest, I’m pretty tickled to receive this acknowledgement for my ‘Services To Music’, as it confirms my long held suspicion nobody really listens to the words in songs or the outcome might have been somewhat different.”

You can read Costello’s full letter here. In other news, in April, Elvis Costello & The Imposters and Blondie announced they would team for a joint tour in July and August.

Elvis Costello accepts O.B.E. from Queen of England: “My mom told me to do it”
Ming Lee Newcomb

Independent clubs & promoters are give a £1.5 million fund from the Arts Council of England

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Independent clubs & promoters are give a £1.5 million fund from the Arts Council of EnglandScreen Shot 2017 08 11 At 11.10.46 PM

Britain has granted a life-changing fund to independent clubs and promoters, many of whom are facing considerable risk and loss of profit at the face of gentrification, strict laws, and other factors. The Arts Council of England has set aside a £1.5 million grant to assist these groups in their artistic endeavors, with successful applicants being awarded
£1,000 to £40,000.

Awardees should be running a three-year project whose “main function is to host and/or promote live music events in venues… in the grassroots part of this sector.” Genres encouraged to apply are indie, electronic, hip-hop, punk, alternative, metal, jazz, folk, and classical, to name a few. They also must be able to prove a few qualifying options, like being able to pay for at least 10% of their total project through other sources.

Those in the UK interested in applying can find more information here.

H/T: Resident Advisor

Prepare for Skepta’s incoming new album, ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’

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Prepare for Skepta’s incoming new album, ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’Skepta Ignorence Is Bliss

Skepta announced his new album, Ignorance Is Bliss, will drop May 31. His previous long play, Konnichiwa, was released in 2016 and won the Mercury Prize, awarded for the best album released in the UK from a British or Irish artist. In 2017, he released an EP called Vicious, which featured Lil B, Smoke Boys, A$AP Rocky, and A$AP Nast.

The grime luminary has kept details about the project on the hush, releasing the album artwork which features an image of him holding his recently born daughter. Perhaps we’ll have a glimpse of his newfound fatherhood mixed in with his normally harsh lyrical hammering. Details that are known include the album art photographed by Manu S. Pillai and there are 13 tracks set to grace all streaming services near you.

Prepare for Skepta’s incoming new album, ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’Unnamed 1

Photo Credit: Burak Cingi/Redferns via Getty Images

Report: Illegal raves in the UK rose by nine percent last year

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Report: Illegal raves in the UK rose by nine percent last yearB91fa73748

The number of illegal raves hosted in the UK increased by nine percent between 2016 and 2017, according to a new report from Sky News. The source collected FOI responses from 14 regional police forces based in England and Wales, to determine that more than 680 unlicensed music events took place in the UK in 2017, as compared to the 628 of 2016. The exact number of illegal raves that occurred in the UK in 2017, however, is likely to surpass even the 680 currently on record, given that Sky News’ report only surveyed figures from the forces that provided the source with their respective numbers, equating to 14 of the 45 total territorial police forces in England and Wales.

Metropolitan Police intelligence unit SCO-36 found that the number of illegal raves in London also followed an upward trajectory, with unlicensed music events doubling in the city since 2016. Police officials speculate that the increasing expenses at licensed music venues could be partly responsible for the growing number of illegal raves. Information from data firm CGA shows that London nightclubs became scarcer between 2014 and 2017, falling by a total of eight percent. The decline in nightlife venue choices could very well be a key influence in the prevalence of unlicensed music events.

H/T: Mixmag

Skepta to debut Dystopia987 at Manchester International Festival, Idris Elba, Yoko Ono also slated to perform

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Skepta to debut Dystopia987 at Manchester International Festival, Idris Elba, Yoko Ono also slated to performManchester International Festival 1

Manchester International Festival’s 2019 installment has stockpiled some truly multifarious talent.

The two-week-long affair kicking off next July touts vastly venerated headliners like BRIT Award nominee, Skepta, who will be bringing his equally retrospective and forward-facing Dystopia987 to a still-secret location. Skepta himself describes Dystopia987, which aims to predict how rave culture’s spirited past will shape the movement in coming years, as a bit of “real-life magic.”

The enduringly iconic Yoko Ono will also be bringing her harmony-seeking Bells For Peace performance to Manchester, which will serve as the festival’s opening event. Soon after, Actor/DJ-producer extraordinaire, Idris Elba, will be unveiling the synergistic debut of TREE, a theatrical venture centered around Elba’s Mi Mandela album. The album was transposed for its new medium by the new director of London-based Young Vic, Kwame Kwei-Armah.

“Kwame and I have both had a strong desire to work with each other for a long time now, we’ve known each other since we were in our very early twenties and have talked about the kernel of an idea for this show for a while,” said Elba of the collaborative undertaking. “Our joint ambition being to make a piece of work inspired by South Africa, using the album Mi Mandela as a starting point.”

Photo Credit: Manchester Evening News

The Prodigy fuse 90’s electronica and punchy grunge rock tropes on ‘We Live Forever’

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The Prodigy fuse 90’s electronica and punchy grunge rock tropes on ‘We Live Forever’The Prodigy Carlos Alvarez Montero Hi Res Treated Preview

Nineties-born electronica group The Prodigy has been back with a steady stream of new releases from what will be their seventh studio album. The group has released new single “We Live Forever,” and the hypnotic breakbeat blends retro rave notes with a chanting chorus, throwing the listener back to the intersections of the British grunge rock era and the emergence of the illegal rave circuit. As always, The Prodigy finds a way to seamlessly integrate electronic layers and aggressive spits into and energetic one-two punch. In the group’s North London studio, The Prodigy’s co-founder, Liam Howlett explains,

No Tourists is ultimately about escapism and the want and need to be derailed and not to follow that easy set path. In these times we live in people have become lazier and forgotten how to explore. Too many people are allowing themselves to be force fed, with whatever that may be. It’s about reaching out further to find another alternative route where the danger and excitement may be to feel more alive… not accepting that you can just be a tourist. That’s what the title is about for us.”

No Tourists set for release on November 2. “We Live Forever” is undoubtedly one of the inbound records high points, with classic in-your-face appeal from the venerated UK electronic outfit. Listen to the final single ahead of the album’s official release below.

The Chemical Brothers prove they’re here for both a good time and a long time with ‘Free Yourself’

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The Chemical Brothers prove they’re here for both a good time and a long time with ‘Free Yourself’Chemical Brothers Free Yourself 1

The long-dormant Chemical Brothers, have released their first single since 2016, “Free Yourself.” Fans will be elated to know they’re still brandishing the same off-the-wall big beat style they helped pioneer since their formation in the late ’80s.

The new track, with its dizzying dissonance and undulating vigor, no doubt aims to simulate a hazy, psychoactive experience. “Free Yourself,” comprised of off-kilter synth loops and and scampering breaks, is likely the closest listeners will get to a whirlwind night out while sitting soberly at their desks.

Longtime followers of TCB know it’s not outside of the UK duo’s nature to befuddle their fans a bit. Leading up to the release, TCB uploaded a teaser video, “EBW 12,” featuring a series of masked figures to YouTube, which incited more than a few head scratches.

Gorgon City’s remix of ‘Feel My Needs’ is an easy dance floor jumpstarter

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Gorgon City’s remix of ‘Feel My Needs’ is an easy dance floor jumpstarterGorgon City

Following the release of their critically-acclaimed album Escape, Gorgon City is back with a remix of Weiss‘ house jam “Feel My Needs.” With a widely successful sophomore album and a what appears to be steady new material stocked as well, the English duo has hit their stride this fall season, gearing up for a well-equipped 2018 tour.

The remix is sure to be a fan-pleaser, as Gorgon City stick to their UK underground house roots on this one. The producer duo throw in some beloved deep bass and quick drum hits, topping off their remix effort with interchanging piano chords and echoed vocals cropped from the original mix. The tempo is sped up a bit, which sets this up perfectly with the theme of most Gorgon City live sets. Jump into Gorgon City’s “Feel My Needs” remix below.

UK music fests call for investigation into Live Nation’s ‘market dominance’

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UK music fests call for investigation into Live Nation’s ‘market dominance’Aif Live Nation Festival Accusations

The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has publicly renewed their call to competition authorities, citing dangerous and increasing dominance and control of large music events by Live Nation. Currently, Live Nation controls a slew of the country’s biggest festivals, including Reading & LeedsParklife and more. That level of dominance is something the AIF says will stifle the competition, specifically by attempting to lock acts into exclusive deals requiring them to only play Live Nation-controlled events.

“Nobody wins from that,” one festival organizer told The Guardian. “We’ve all got an interest in the bands and the scene flourishing.”

To support the public declaration of concern, the AIF even created a map showing prominent UK events and the 26 percent of them currently under the control of Live Nation. Additionally, the organization is launching a “Stamp of Independence,” with the goal of giving festival-goers the power to support independent businesses in the UK’s music scene. AIF chief executive Paul Reed further explained the impact Live Nation’s growing influence could have on music fans.

“Allowing a single company to dominate festivals reduces the amount of choice and value for money for music fans,” Reed said. “It can block new entrants to market, result in strangleholds on talent through exclusivity deals and stifle competition throughout the entire live music business.”

Live Nation has yet to comment on the AIF’s accusations.

Photo Credit: Jen O’Neill