photograph: gail o’hara, nyc, 2001
we met isabella blow once at the photographers gallery and took her photo but can’t find it at the moment. she was like of course you can take my photo, as if you even need to ask. she was a rare veritable fashion icon in london: unmistakably her, the queen of chapeaux, a master of personal style, standing out amid a dull, bland sea of boringly blond and boho babes (kate, sienna, yawn) commonly thought of as fashion legends by herd followers. she fought depression her whole life, she had cancer and she died of a drugs overdose earlier this month. read the obit from the independent for more details about this original and imaginative character.
photograph: steven meisel; hat by philip treacy
one of chickfactor’s most prized possessions is an annabel wright original belle and sebastian image created for the new yorker in 1998. it hangs proudly on the wall in whatever city we happen to be living in and we adore it. once famous for being “aggi pastel” (chickfactor’s other founding editor once sang about her in that black tambourine tune “throw aggi off the bridge” but I can assure you it was meant in the sweetest of ways), annabel has other big things on which to focus these days. you have seen her art on many an album cover (pastels, sleater-kinney, teenage fanclub, bill wells trio, dump, yo la tengo, etc), and if you happen to be up in scotland, you can check out the scottish show for some more. we pulled this random image off her agency’s website.
image: annabel wright
since I’ve been a cat power fan since the early ’90s (we were the first to interview her back in 1996 for timeout new york and of course chickfactor), I have seen her like two zillion times, but my pal lauren had not so we went to see ms charlene at the london forum on 1 may. the show was packed and sold out and seemingly filled with chain-smoking (and coked-up) cretins and fashion world wannabes. the crowd didn’t make too much sense to me in an indie way until I saw this so-hip-it’s-stupid magazine cover on the newsstand the very next day, and then it all made total sense. it’s their special white trash issue. oh well, good for her. the show was very professional, she was a lead singer who walked around and made lots of gestures and the band was good. it was a vast improvement over the last show of hers I’d seen in london, where she was slumped in a chair and unenergetic and her typically insecure self. her new role as slimmed-down muse to karl lagerfeld, draped in chanel jewellery, has clearly given the raspy voiced lady a shot of well-deserved confidence. shame about the new fans and the gross cover line, though…
tara jane o’neil is famous for being a musician (she was even in enchanté flagship act containe for a while there in the 90s), but many people may not know she is also a visual artist. chickfactor recently attended the opening of her one-woman show at the fab arsenal art gallery 96 gillespie. londoners who are not busy on 21 may should head to the gallery for her the exhibition’s closing night party, from 7 to 9, where the portland-based artist will be playing some songs.
image: sunbird strings by tara jane o’neil
minneapolis has always been famous for pop (like prince, hüsker dü, the replacements, etc) but some of its acest pop bands are just not famous enough (the hang-ups, the legendary jim ruiz group, dearly, etc) and most of them rarely make the shlep to london. lucky for londoners, alison labonne (who has long been a jim ruiz sideman) is bringing her band the owls, along with her hubby brian tighe (of the hang-ups), to the buffalo bar on friday 25 may. of course, in general the couple-led band can be a very suspicious concern, but in this case the owls are excellent pop tunesmiths not to be missed!
photograph: courtesy the owls
• a while ago I told some of you that there would be a chickfactor 17, which would be nice because chickfactor 16, our first online issue, came out more than two years ago. I lied. we aren’t going to do another issue like that, instead you will see longer pieces throughout the year (such as the debsey birdie interview below). I know this website has been short on content since it launched in 2002, but I have been trying to add more content. I would like it to be more like chickfactor magazine, but with regular news updates so feel free to email me your news items. I don’t really like writing record reviews anymore (after 20 years of doing it, are you surprised?), but I do plan to do more music coverage (and not just silly hair and fashion articles).
• chickfactor turns 15 this summer, our first issue came out in sept 1992, and we hope to have some events in our favourite major cities. not sure who is playing yet but the pines seem keen to get out of semi-retirement, fingers crossed.
the new love of my life is hugh laurie. the girls in the video store made fun of me one day when I was returning the last DVD of the jeeves & wooster box set and renting out the first season of house m.d. and some fry and laurie as well. one of them marvelled at how she now fancies hugh as his cantankerous genius doctor character but that she’d never fancied any of his characters before, and my pal lauren agrees. pam had warned me about his really bad american accent and the fact that he isn’t funny in this med-show. he’s a successful actor and therefore probably a huge-headed ass in real life, with his wife and three kids and motorcycle collection blah blah blah. but what range he has as an actor! and he looks so darn cute as the clueless bertie wooster even if no woman in her right mind could fancy that character (apart from madeleine bassett or one of the other bob-haired babes on J&W). though it is pretty scary how much like him so many british men actually are! anyway, what a guy. when he is all suited up and looking all cole porter ish and banging out silly songs on the piano (with jeeves smirking in the background), who can resist him? so much better than that other hugh…
I used to take a lot of guff for championing other music when I worked at timeout new york, but fact is the store rocks and it’s owned by my good friends chris and josh! congrats to them for all their hard work. they’ve been busy stocking their brand-new digital other music store! shop away.