Washington DC, dawn 2003. “Record digger” Dori Hadar was hunting for rare vinyl at a local fleamarket, when he discovered boxes containing 38 albums by an unknown soul singer named Mingering Mike. “Can Minger Mike Stevens Really Sing?” screamed a hand-painted cover in bold capitals. “The Outsiders are Back” proclaimed another. The collection was comprehensive, including several greatest hits albums, free single giveaways, a Bruce Lee tribute album and collaborations.
But why was Mingering Mike such an unknown, when he had a huge body of work behind him, recorded under numerous labels such as Mother Goose and Fake Records? As Hadar began to delve deeper into the boxes, he realised that the discs, far from being in poor condition and scratched, were actually pristine – and made of cardboard. Whoever had made them had taken enormous care to paint the cardboard black, draw on grooves, and create an entire recording career, all in their imagination. Continue reading LifeStories – Mingering Mike→
Australian singer/songwriter Sia has been around for a long time, but I had never really heard of her until her intriguing performance on this year’s The Voice UK, during which her face was obscured by a bizarre long wig that looked like a modern reworking of a 1970’s lampshade. Who the heck is this? I thought, whilst being slightly mesmerised by her haunting vocals and electro-pop sound.
A quick search on Wikipedia revealed some interesting snippets – her music incorporates hip hop, funk and soul; in 2014, she was ranked the 97th richest Australian person under the age of 40 by BRW magazine; she is the niece of Colin Hay from Australian group Men at Work; and she performed as a background vocalist for Jamiroquai. Recently Sia has written hits for Rihanna (Diamonds) and Beyonce (Pretty Hurts), as well as for Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera, and Rita Ora. Continue reading LifeStories: Who is Sia?→
Elsa Schiaparelli(1890–1973) was an Italian fashion designer, affectionally known as Schiap. Between the two World Wars, she was arguably as powerful and influential as Coco Chanel – and yet today, while Chanel remains a huge and iconic fashion force, dominating magazines and catwalks, Schiap languishes as a footnote in fashion history. So who was this intriguing woman? And just how big is her almost forgotten legacy? Using bold patterns, geometric shapes and collaborations with Dali and Cocteau, Schiap fused the worlds of art and fashion together in a way that is widely accepted today, but was beyond avant garde at the time. Think Alexander McQueen, Peter Pilotto and Raf Simons – now imagine a woman doing this in the middle of the last century. She was closely associated with the Dada and Surrealist movements, and her most famous creation, the beautiful Lobster Dress, could easily be worn today. Continue reading LifeStories: Elsa Schiaparelli→