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In Conversation with Noel Gallagher.

It was a pleasure to interview Noel Gallagher at the iconic venue of Salford Lads Club – which is run by volunteers – with all profits from the evening going to support the youth club and the building itself. Tickets sold out in just one minute.

Former Manchester City player Paul Lake introduced the event.

During his career Noel has mixed with musical legends, one such icon being David Bowie. “He’s one of the all-time greats,” he said. “One of my biggest regrets is that I met him once and I was a bit too stupid to appreciate him. Someone came up to me and said “David would like to see you and I was like, ‘Of course he would!” I wish I had the opportunity to meet him now again.”

As a someone who wrote lasting hits such as Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back in Anger and Live Forever (the latter being voted as the Best British Song Ever in a poll by Radio X last year), you’d wonder what was left to achieve for the 52-year-old musician.

“I’m still trying to write the greatest song of all time,” said Noel. “I know that sounds a little pretentious but that’s what keeps me going. I’m not driven by anything other than music. I just want to keep doing it with enthusiasm and I’m still trying to write the greatest song.”

The event was a great success with £8,500 raised for Salford Lad’s Club.

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/funeral-songs-madonna-gatecrashing-50th-17164257

School of Digital Arts (SODA)

It feels odd to share good news when so many people are suffering, but it’s now official, I’m moving on from the University of Salford in July. Salford has been such a massive part of my life- over half in fact! Back in 1995, as an undergraduate Media and Performance student, I fell in love with the place and it’s people there and then. Since that time, I moved on to the FE sector and returned to my beloved old Adelphi Building as a lecturer in 2005 and have undertaken a number of roles since, most recently as Associate Dean in the shiny New Adelphi.

But new beginnings are beckoning and I’m delighted to be joining the new School of Digital Arts (SODA) at Manchester Metropolitan University as part of the leadership team looking after Knowledge Exchange and Business Development and as Reader in Screen Studies.

It’s been an immense privilege and pleasure to work with so many talented, dedicated people, many of whom are my dear friends and who will remain so.

Supermodels of the World: RuPaul’s Drag Race as International Phenomenon symposium

Due to disruptions caused by the current Coronavirus crisis, we have extended the deadline for abstracts for the 25th September 2020 symposium- Supermodels of the World: RuPaul’s Drag Race as International Phenomenon.

Dependent on further developments, online participation may become our primary method for all to engage in this one day event. We will, of course, update accordingly.

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Call for Papers:

Supermodels of the World: RuPaul’s Drag Race as International Phenomenon
A One-Day Interdisciplinary Symposium

School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK.
25th September 2020

Since its 2009 debut, RuPaul’s Drag Race has shifted from a niche American reality show anomaly to an award-winning global success. This one day symposium will examine its international reach with versions of the contest created in the UK, Thailand and Canada alongside, titular host, Rupaul having already hinted at further growth when teasingly asking journalists “how many countries are there?”.

As a major popular culture event, panels will look to ascertain whether Drag Race – as the dominant depiction of drag in this early part of the 21st Century – represents an expansion or the homogenization of this aspect of LGBTQ+ culture. For example, have the geographical diversions within this TV show (journeying from Cameroon to Northern Ireland, South Korea to Puerto Rico) provided an opportunity to showcase localized interpretations, performances or incarnations? Or has this all-conquering drag empire imposed its own hegemony.

We invite abstracts of up to 250 words by Monday 22nd June 2020.

Possible themes could include (but are not limited to):

Race and cultural identities/experiences within Drag Race.
The local, regional and global impact of Drag Race on scenes.
Social media, fandom and worldwide drag celebrity.
International marketing/consumerism of drag stardom: from DragCon to related TV offerings (Dancing Queen, Drag U, The Trixie and Katya Show, Drag SOS, Dragula, etc).
Drag Race and its place within global LGBTQ+ history.
The lexicon of drag and developments of language/vocabulary.

Please send abstracts by 22nd June 2020 to Dr Danny Cookney D.J.Cookney@salford.ac.uk and Dr Kirsty Fairclough K.Fairclough@salford.ac.uk

The Legacy of Mad Men Cultural History, Intermediality and American Television.

In 2016, I co-organised Mad Men: The Conference at Middle Tenneesee State University, near Nashville, Tennessee, USA. The conference brought together scholars from around the world to discuss the cultural impact of the television series. This book is a collection of essays from the conference and is dedicated to the memory of Professor David Lavery, our co-organiser and a renowned television scholar who passed away shortly after the conference and who is sadly missed.

For seven seasons, viewers worldwide watched as ad man Don Draper moved from adultery to self-discovery, secretary Peggy Olson became a take-no-prisoners businesswoman, object-of-the-gaze Joan Holloway developed a feminist consciousness, executive Roger Sterling tripped on LSD, and smarmy Pete Campbell became a surprisingly nice guy. Mad Men defined a pivotal moment for television, earning an enduring place in the medium’s history.

Our edited collection examines the enduringly popular television series as Mad Men still captivates audiences and scholars in its nuanced depiction of a complex decade. This is the first book to offer an analysis of Mad Men in its entirety, exploring the cyclical and episodic structure of the long form series and investigating issues of representation, power and social change. The collection establishes the show’s legacy in televisual terms, and brings it up to date through an examination of its cultural importance in the Trump era. Aimed at scholars and interested general readers, the book illustrates the ways in which Mad Men has become a cultural marker for reflecting upon contemporary television and politics.

Girls on Film Live Podcast Recording

It was a pleasure to join host Anna Smith, BBC Asian Network’s Ashanti Omkar and Waad al-Kateab, director of the incredible documentary For Sama, to review current releases and discuss classic films from a female perspective.

We previewed HOME’s Not Just Bollywood season, Jeanie Finlay’s Seahorse and paid tribute to the great Juliette Binoche by discussing some of her most entertaining and provocative work.

Listen on iTunes here:

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/ep-20-for-sama-seahorse-juliette-binoche-bechdel-test/id1439182513?i=1000448831410

SOUND AND VISION: Pop Stars on Film at HOME, Manchester.

Sound and Vision: Pop Stars on Film, July-August 2019

From the relatively early days of cinema, popular music figures have made forays into acting. Sound and Vision: Pop Stars On Film offers an overview of some of the most influential performances from a diverse range of cultural icons.

Co-curated by Dr. Kirsty Fairclough, University of Salford and Jason Wood Creative Director: Film and Culture at HOME.

Thanks:

Barry Adamson, Omar Ahmed, Mark Cousins, Fraser Elliott, Jennifer Hall, Rachel Hayward, Steve Jenkins, Bob Stanley, Andy Starke, Peter Strickland, Andy Willis.

In partnership with MUBI.

Pop Cultures: Women, Music and Celebrity at Celebrity Culture Club, AllBright, Mayfair, London.

It was a pleasure to speak at Celebrity Culture Club at the AllBright, Mayfair on Women, music and celebrity. The evening interrogated women’s status in the music industry from a variety of perspectives. In essence, the panel discussed the ways in which pop music culture circulates representations of women that both shape and reflect their role in pop culture. At both ends of the spectrum it is a site for some of the most regressive gender tropes and some of the most excitingly resistant, norm-shattering responses to them.

I shared the stage with the following fabulous women:

Ayse Hassan, the bassist for Mercury Prize shortlisted, all-female post-punk band, Savages. She makes music in collaborations Kite Base and 180db and solo as ESYA.
Maxie Gedge does Communications for PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading funder for new music and talent development. She is the Director of the record label Gravy, and the drummer for both angry pop girl group Graceland and Current Bond. She has an MMus in Sonic Arts, has worked for festivals, venues and talent development organisations, programmed hundreds of new music shows, and promotes and DJs at queer dance parties.
Carla Marie Williams, Songwriter on Beyonce’s Grammy winning album Lemonade
Chair: Dr Hannah Yelin Senior Lecturer in Media and Culture, Oxford Brookes University.

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International Prince scholarship continues apace with the BATDANCE symposium at Spelman College, Atlanta. At the end of the month I’ll be presenting on the the evolution of the Batman soundtrack album, the eleventh full-length studio album by Prince, and the first and only soundtrack album by Prince for a movie in which he was not involved as an actor. With a number of Purple Reign scholars speaking at the conference, we will be building on our international network with a view to further developments.

As fellow Prince scholar and BATDANCE organiser De Angela Duff puts so incisively….

“Prince was an innovator in multiple spheres of the arts. Prince was also interdisciplinarity, entrepreneurship, and invention incarnate. He was at the forefront of recording, lighting, and stage technology. Roger Linn’s Linn LM-1 Drum Machine, the first drum machine to use digital samples of acoustic drums, is intrinsically tied to and essentially synonymous with Prince and the “Minneapolis sound” that he is known for. Prince, an early and avid adopter of the internet, conversed directly with his fans in AOL private chatrooms way before Twitter or Facebook. In 1994, before Beyonce’s visual albums, he released his music in an interactive form, even going so far as to entitle it, Interactive. He was also on the forefront of entrepreneurship, building his own 55,000 square feet media complex for audio studio recordings, film and video shoots, band and tour rehearsals that he rented out to others during its inception in 1987. After he initially left Warner Bros. in 1996, he also constantly tested several, music distribution models involving old and new media. Prince worked with Van Jones to create and fund the organizations, #YesWeCode and Green For All. Also, before diversity became a ubiquitous term, Prince’s roster of band members and staff consisted of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. On top of that, Prince was a silent philanthropist donating to many organizations including educational ones such as the Harvest Network of Schools, Harlem Children’s Zone, and Eau Claire Promise Zone to name a few. “

Further details on the symposium can be found here:

About

EYE NO Prince Lovesexy Symposium by Integrated Digital Media at NYU Tandon.

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Following the success of the Prince From Minneapolis Symposium and in the next stage of the development of what we are now terming “Princecology”,  EYE NO Prince Lovesexy Symposium will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Prince’s tenth album, Lovesexy at NYU Tandon on June 1st and 2nd 2018.

The symposium will consist of a reception, an opening keynote with Prince collaborators Cat Glover, Dr. Fink & Ingrid Chavez, and a screening on Friday, June 1st to launch the event.  A full-day of 4 panels will follow on Saturday, June 2nd with a closing keynote with Prince’s cousin, Charles “Chazz” Smith.

Professor Mike Alleyne and I will present Glam Slammed: Visual Identity In Prince’s Lovesexy. The paper will explore  the ways in which Lovesexy signalled the beginning of a period where Prince wrestled with moral and spiritual questions. We will consider how the central tenet of the album, the battle between God (good) and evil (the Devil, personified as “Spooky Electric”), which largely seems to be an internalised moral struggle, is introduced early in the album. “Lovesexy” as a conceptual framework is never made fully clear, but it seems to be a state of spiritual contentment that fuses a love of God and a connection with humanity via sexuality. The paper will explore the visual presentation of such themes through an analysis of the album cover, music videos, and art direction as part of the evolution of Prince’s visual identity and will consider Lovesexy’s visual style as Prince’s personal mythos.
The paper also explores the controversies surround the Lovesexy album cover. It references the historical roles and functions of the album cover, Prince’s status as a visual icon on his cover art, and comparative perspectives on his nine preceding album covers. Moreover, the analysis incorporates the mainstream cover norms at the time of Lovesexy’s release, photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino’s collaborative approach to the project with Prince, and ways in which negative critical response to the resulting art contributed to its relative commercial failure. The assessment interrogates multiple possible readings of the cover and its implications for Prince’s visual presentation on later releases. Lovesexy is one of Prince’s career high’s, a landmark album that displays an artist at the peak of his creative powers using philosophical constructs both visually and aurally in a way rarely seen in the mainstream. Thirty years since its release, it sounds and looks more exciting than ever.

http://lovesexy.polishedsolid.com/glam_slammed/

The momentum building around the analysis of Prince’s life and work is reflective of the academic interest from scholars in a range of disciplines across the world. Plans are emerging to bring this work together and will be shared soon.

The EYE NO SYMPOSIUM WEBSITE with more info bios and abstracts can be found here:
http://lovesexy.polishedsolid.com

 

 

 

Prince From Minneapolis

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I am soon to head to Minneapolis in my capacity as a consultant and speaker at the Prince From Minneapolis Symposium.

The event will take place in the city that Prince was proud to hail from. Continuing to live and work there, he put the city firmly on the map of the music industry through the Minneapolis Sound. Until his unexpected death on April 21, 2016, he hosted parties for local fans at his Paisley Park studio. Prince is probably the only global megastar who has remained so embedded in the cultural life of his hometown.

The symposium will investigate Prince’s unique relation to Minneapolis and Minnesota. It will ask what demographic, cultural, and economic conditions were in place for Prince to emerge as a musical genius? How was a new sound born from a small African American population in a largely white and segregated state? Why did Prince stay there? How did he reinvent the aesthetics and politics of blackness? How did he simultaneously cross over to white and international audiences? How did Minnesotans, both queer and straight, react to Prince’s ambivalent black male sexuality? How is Minneapolis represented in Purple Rain? How do we interpret his spiritual explorations? What kind of utopia did Paisley Park embody? What was Prince’s mode of operation in the studio? How did the Minneapolis sound affect hiphop, jazz, rock, and electronic dance music? Why do music tourists flock to this city from Europe and Australia?

Appreciating Prince’s cultural impact will provide a window on fundamental questions in US and Minnesotan society. At a time when the political achievements of the 1960s are under threat, we hope understanding where Prince comes from will make some room for reimagining social change.

​I am proud to join an interdisciplinary team of scholars, artists, and music industry professionals with a passion for studying Prince’s significance to the world of music and to the Twin Cities.

Organising team

As well as a range of diverse academic papers, we have a number of sessions taking place that will engage fans, the local community and the music industry including from some of Prince’s closest collaborators including Dr Fink, Mayte Garcia and Shelby J.

 

 

Our opening keynote is by Jeff Chang in discussion with Daphne Brooks,

Jeff Chang is Social Historian at the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Stanford University
who has written extensively on the intersection of race, art, and civil rights, and the socio-political forces that guided the hip-hop generation. As a speaker, he brings fresh energy and sweep to the essential American story, offering an invaluable interpretation at a time when race defines the national conversation. His latest book, We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation, questions why we keep talking about diversity even as American society is resegregating, both racially and economically.

Daphne A. Brooks is Professor of African American Studies, Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She is the author of two books: Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Duke University Press, 2006) and Jeff Buckley’s Grace (Continuum, 2005). She has published numerous articles on the intersectional politics of popular music culture. Brooks is currently working on a three-volume study of black women and popular music culture entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women Sound Modernity. The first volume in the trilogy, Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Archive, the Critic, and Black Feminist Musicking is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. Brooks is also the author of the liner notes for The Complete Tammi Terrell (Universal A&R, 2010) and Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia (Sony, 2011). In 2017, Brooks served as the chief conference coordinator of the conference “Blackstar Rising and the Purple Reign: Celebrating the Legacies of David Bowie and Prince” at Yale University.

More information on our range of speakers can be found here:

Speakers

The full schedule of papers and events is published here:

Schedule

I am delighted to be presenting work with Professor Mike Alleyne on Prince and visual identity: post-Purple Rain. Mike Alleyne co-organised Purple Reign: An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Life and Legacy of Prince The University of Salford, UK with me in May 2017,

Professor Mike Alleyne

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My participation in the symposium is a part of a larger academic and public engagement project on the life and legacy of Prince from the School of Arts and Media at The University of Salford, UK.

More information  will be released soon.