2018 in Review

Word! I was challenged to participate in the ‘2018 in Review’, so here goes…

What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

I watched ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ for the first time.  Kris is soooo coolio!

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 

No and no.

What was the best thing you bought?

Charlotte Tilbury’s Collagen Lip Bath! This is a must have beauty staple. I hardly wore any lipsticks/lipglosses since discovering this treasure (well most of the time anyway)! Oh, and my Adidas leopard print track top.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Going back to the States. I was so excited before/during/after the trip that I got stranded in NYC thanks to Virgin Atlantic (no really, thank you!) abandoning the return flight just before take off at Newark airport (true story). This was not the first time I got stranded at Newark (but that’s another story). Also, I had this on repeat, it’s boss (oh yeah? YEAH!)!

Walking that walk, talk that slick talk…

What song will always remind you of 2018?

 If the song has to be from 2018, then I would choose this:

What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in 2018?

I don’t know. Perhaps falling over somewhere. I’m always falling over, here, there, and everywhere…

What was your favorite TV program?

Killing Eve, obvs.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Hmm…I had to shut some people out of my life, in proper Filipino style but there you go. It is what it is.

What was the best book you read?

I can’t decide! Either…

What kept you sane?

Friends and Pink G&Ts.

Who was the best new person you met?

That would be telling…but I’ll leave this here as a lovely memory. If the video still below does it any justice, that’s me as Nicki in awe…

#SORRYNOTSORRY!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018

Not taking life too seriously & to keep trying my best. Some sad events happened last year and was a wake-up call for me. In the words of Monica (of the Brandy sort): ‘It’s really frustrating. I am a huge supporter of everyone in the business…We know that as different as we are, there’s room for both of us.’

And one more (leaving this here)…

Did I mention that Kris is so coolio?!

Thank you for reading! Shara x

© Shara Rambarran

Schiev

Music and Virtuality Book Talk – Schiev Festival, Beursschouwburg.

Brussels (the heart of Europe)

In November 2018, I was invited to give a book talk on Music & Virtuality at the Schiev Festival, in Brussels. For more details click on the link. Thank you to the organisers of the festival for the opportunity!

Take a look: Schiev

Revolution 9(9)

Revolution 9(9): A Critical Reflection on Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album – a mash up of the Beatles’ White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album. 

Monmouth University, New Jersey (November 2018).

White Album Conference

I was very happy to receive an email from Beatles expert Kenneth Womack asking me if I could talk about Danger Mouse’s Grey Album at the White Album Conference. You may be aware that the year 2018 was the 50th year anniversary of the White Album. The super conference was amazing and I am in love with the White Album more than ever! Thank you Kenneth for the opportunity and for holding a great conference!

Crosstown Traffic: Popular Music Theory and Practice

Methodologies in Record Production Research 2.0: Building an Interdisciplinary Ontology Panel Discussion (University of Huddersfield, September 2018)

Shara Rambarran, Paul Théberge, Phillip McIntyre, Nyssim Lefford
Image by Alex Stevenson

I was privileged to participate in the panel at the recent Art of Record Conference (in collaboration with IASPM/Dancecult/ISMMS*). Thank you Nyssim Lefford for the opportunity. It was a pleasure working with you, Paul Théberge, and Phillip McIntyre.

 More Details: https://crosstowntraffic2018.wordpress.com/

Stick ’em Up Punk…

We’re the Fun Loving Educators

Punk Pedagogies in Practice: Music, Culture & Learning

London College of Communication (University of the Arts London)

In March 2018, I was honoured to participate in the ‘Punk Pedagogies in Practice: Music, Culture & Learning’ symposium at the London College of Communication. The event celebrated the newly published book Punk Pedagogies in Practice: Music, Culture & Learning edited by the great Trinity: Gareth Dylan Smith, Mike Dines, & Tom Parkinson (Routledge, 2017).  In the symposium, we explored punk scholarship and pedagogic practices across many disciplines such as graphic design, visual communication, music, politics, and cultural theory. I was privileged to speak with Mike Dines, Tom Parkinson and Russ Bestley (sadly Matt Grimes who was scheduled to speak couldn’t make it). Thank you to all for the opportunity guys, and Russ Bestley for organising the event!

More Details: http://events.arts.ac.uk/event/2018/3/12/Punk-Pedagogies-in-Practice/

The Ghost, Danger Mouse, & Benny.

‘The Ghost Inside’: Exploring the aesthetic retro sounds and vintage production in the works of the producer, Danger Mouse. 

The Art of Record Production Conference. Royal College of Music Stockholm (KMH), Stockholm, Sweden.

In December 2017, I had the pleasure in revisiting the works of music producer Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) at the 12th Art of Record Production conference in Stockholm.  Details of the talk are in the title. More (and all) will be revealed in my book project on Danger Mouse. I have to admit however, that the main highlight of the conference was hearing Abba’s  Benny Andersson’s talk and performance. Everybody’s Christmasses arrived at once. You have to dig on social media for evidence but for now, here is a picture of me instead:

Bass in the Attic – A Reflection

In November 2017, the Bass Culture Research Project held ‘Bass in the Attic’ at the Ritzy, Brixton. This event was to highlight Black Music heritage and was part of the Being Human Festival. This interactive event invited participants (including me) and the local community to share their stories and memories of Black British music. Mykaell Riley recollected his time as an artist with Steel Pulse and the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra. Dr. Joy White (Grime expert and Ethnomusicologist) shared her experiences of clubbing and brought in fliers that demonstrated how events were promoted during the rave and underground scenes. Established Lovers Rock artists Victor Romeo and Janet Kay shared their experiences in music, acting, fashion, the ‘Stickman’ walk and appearing on Top of the Pops. The audience also shared their musical experiences and vinyl collection. Overall it was a successful event because it enabled participants the opportunity to recollect and share their stories on Black British music. The idea of documenting stories and sharing memories of Black British music is significant because such (future) heritage needs to connect and bond with audiences, families, communities etc.—memories are indeed important and precious—as demonstrated at this event.

My Life story (sort of…)

My story reflected on musical memories in the 1990s. I’m from Harlow and I was not exposed to Black British music. The only connection I had was due to my (British) Guyanese father—who always played reggae and had parties at home. After he died, his friends were out of the family picture and I lost that cultural connection at such a young age. From what I have learned from his short life in Britain (and from what I could remember), he was an outsider in society but would heavily immerse with his mates and celebrate his Caribbean culture and roots. His best mates (my Godfathers) were from Barbados and Jamaica. When he could, he would actually hang out East and North London (mainly Walthamstow) to be with his fellow Caribbean mates.

I also felt an outsider due my race. Basically, I grew up in a working class white town. At school I was the only non-white child and was listening to what everyone else was listening to: chart pop, rock and dance. Also I was never popular, I only had a few selected close friends, I guess we were the ‘geeky’ group although I wasn’t really brainy at the time! There were some opportunities where I was exposed to Caribbean culture. My best mate’s dad was a bus driver and his route was the number N73 in London. Erika and I would hang out at the Tottenham Hale bus garage and listen to reggae in the canteen as well as talking to her dad’s colleagues who were Jamaican/British Jamaican. Back at high school, we discovered pirate radio by accident and picked up Jungle music. I started to gain a reconnection with my cultural roots but found it so hard to discover on the name of artists/producers mainly because the DJ would not mention them!

A few tunes that I grew up with in the 1990s…

Rebel MC – Black Meaning Good (Tribal Bass)

One tune that really resonated for me and took me ages to find out that it was Rebel MC AKA Congo Natty (I was a fan his music before in the late1980s)—but then of course it became a chart hit. Everyone was into this tune at high school, but I was the only one who bought the album. Not sure why though, maybe it had something to do with the album title, with me from a white town and that…

Shara Rambarran

Shara Rambarran Talking about Rebel MC ‘s Black Meaning Good  Image by Hillegonda Rietveld

 

After high school, I was the only one who went to study music at my local college. My college classmates were from other parts of Essex and they all had their own identities and tastes in music. I had the advantage of being more exposed to other musical genres such Britpop, alterative rock, techno etc. This encouraged me to seek more on Black British music especially as Jungle was getting popular. I religiously hanged out in my local record store and discovered the following timeless music:

Maxine & Dubwise

This jungle tune reminds me of Romford on a Saturday. Essex was totally aware of jungle, and in time, you could hear it everywhere: indoor/outdoor markets, out of Ford Escorts etc. This tune really caught on though, in particular the version with the horns section (as opposed to rock version). It’s very energetic and just shouts out ESSEX. I consider this to be my ‘townie’ memory (as well as shell suits)! It’s worth mentioning that Dubwise and the label Renk Records is owned by Junior Hart, whose son is Marlon Hart, otherwise known M-Beat.

Bomb The Bass featuring Spikey Tee

I have a lot of ? for Tim Simenon and Bomb the Bass. Tim Simenon experimented with hip hop, electronica, and more importantly reggae and dub on the album Clear. He collaborated with the likes of Bim Sherman, Justin Warfield, Will Self & Benjamin Zephaniah. This particular track however, Spikey Tee’s ‘Darkheart’ resonates with me the most. The dub version is dark but yet at the same time it’s uplifting to listen to as well—it just works. This album inspired me to make experimental music back in the day (and I blew my student loan on my first Akai sampler and various synthesisers).

Audioweb

You may be familiar with the saying ‘don’t judge its book by its cover’. If I’m honest with you, I did with this with particular CD single that I picked up at Trumps Records:

I was fascinated with the group’s name and had no idea on who they were. I was blown away with their music: a mixture of heavy guitar riffs, electronica, deep bass lines, mesmerizing beats, and reggae. To me the music sounded way ahead of its time—it was a mixture of live instruments and electronic sounds—and that to me was unusual. Audioweb were from Manchester with British Jamaican lead singer—Martin ‘Sugar’ Merchant—who used to be in the Sound System scenes including the Saxon Crew. I felt a connection with the music with the group because I was very drawn to the genre-blending and of course, reggae. To me, that idea of mixing rock, electronica, and reggae produced was a great sound.

Audioweb had one major hit, a cover version of The Clash’s ‘Bankrobber’. By this time, I was studying music at Sheffield University. I was so desperate to watch them live. I rang their label’s press office, Mother Records every week asking for updates! I finally got to see them in February at the University of Liverpool in 1997. There was a packed crowd and surprisingly everyone knew the words. I was even more surprised to see Audioweb’s biggest fan, Ian Brown dancing behind me. Everyone did go crazy when they played ‘Bankrobber’. It was such a buzzing and energetic show. It was so good that I managed to get hold of the set list with Martin Merchant’s footprint on it. My ex-best mate and I accidently met Sean McCann the bass player at the back of the venue and he got us into the after show party. I met the group, and they were all buzzing especially Martin and Maxi (the drummer)—they couldn’t believe that the crowd knew the words. I do have images of this event but I’ll save it for another time!

Roots and Routes…

These memories are important to me—not only they remind me of my youth but also my father and cultural roots. For me, it was more of an individual discovery rather then ‘growing’ up with it. I think if my dad was alive it would have have been a different story (he would have made me listen to a lot of reggae!). I am from a mixed cultural background and if I’m honest with you, I really don’t know much about my father’s family. Therefore, it is the music, the culture (and popular culture) and the Bass Culture Research Project that is repairing the lost connection with my father. To be continued…

© Shara Rambarran

Basically…

Bass in the Attic – A Reflection

Bass in the Attic (Being Human Festival)-November 2017

Reggae Research Network (Winter & Spring, 2017)

We Are All Living In A Wallspace: James Mudriczki’s new project, Nihilists

The Oxford Handbook of Music & Virtuality (2016)

The Oxford Handbook of Music & Virtuality in PopMatters (Gorillaz)

Alexander Bard: The ‘King Midas’ of Scandipop?

The 20 Most Memorable Songs of 1991: The KLF & ‘3am Eternal’ (PopMatters)

The Record Producer And The Law (DJ Danger Mouse) Published in: Journal on the Art of Record Production

Bass in the Attic (Being Human Festival)-November 2017

On Sunday 19th November 2017, I will be participating in ‘Bass in the Attic’- a discussion panel on Black British Music Heritage. I am delighted to announce that Janet Kay (the Queen of Lover’s Rock), Mykaell Riley (record producer and PI of the Black Music Research Unit/Bass Culture Research Project), and Dr. Joy White (Grime expert and ethnomusicologist) are also part of the panel. This is an open event where the public can also bring and share their music heritage and memories. Details on Bass in the Attic and the Being Human Festival are below.

Event details:

Venue: Upstairs at the Ritzy, Ritzy Cinema, 469 Brixton Road, London, SW2 1JQ United Kingdom
Time: 12pm-2pm
Tickets (free): https://beinghumanfestival.org/event/bass-in-the-attic/

Event is hosted by the Black Music Research Unit (University of Westminster) and is part of the  Being Human Festival.

Bass in the attic – The Details:

‘Join Janet Kay, vocalist on classic lover’s rock hit ‘Silly Games’, Mike Darby of Bristol Archive Records and Shara Rambarran, popular musicologist, and Dr. Joy White, leading expert in grime, for an afternoon of sharing and conversation around black British music heritage. Each will bring a piece of personal music history – perhaps an old photograph, flyer, piece of vinyl – and these will be the springboard for a conversation around heritage: What is it? Why is it important? What are the challenges for black British music heritage in particular? How can we all be part of tracing and preserving it?

This is a conversation for all ages and music tastes. Those old music magazines in your loft, cassettes in shoeboxes, that photo you and your friends at a gig? This is heritage in danger of being lost as generations pass. Let’s find it, value it and talk about it. If you’d like to contribute to the community archive come along early with images you’d like to share on your phone.’ (https://beinghumanfestival.org/event/bass-in-the-attic/)

About the Being Human Festival:

‘Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Being Human is a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. The festival highlights the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world.’