Issue 7 of Razz My Berries magazine
Published in summer 2011
Issue 7 of Razz My Berries magazine
Published in summer 2011
Issue 6 of Razz My Berries magazine
Published in spring 2011
Issue 5 of Razz My Berries magazine
Published winter 2010
Issue 4 of Razz My Berries magazine
Published in autumn 2010
After weeks of trying, I have finally worked out how to publish the magazine on my blog! This is the summer issue of Razz, Exeter uni’s student magazine, and the last magazine Emma and I edited. Hope you enjoy reading it!
Click on the ‘RAZZ’ tab to view the other three magazines we put together during 2010/11.
For the summer issue of Razz, Emma, my co-editor, and I interviewed Emmy the Great. We really enjoyed chatting to her and loved listening to her new album, Virtue, which came out in June.
Razz editors Emma and Ellie interview singer songwriter Emmy the Great.
How did you get the name Emmy the Great as a stage name? At my university my friends and I started giving ourselves increasingly hyperbolic rap battle/ MC names as a joke. At that time I was changing my email from hotmail to gmail and needed a new name (the old one had the number 69 in it), so I used a shortened version of my most recent nickname – ’emmy emstyles aka the great’ – for the gmail account. When I made demos to try and get singing jobs in bands, I used emmy the great. I’ve since read people saying that it’s a nostalgia thing, or a hark back to comic strips, even Calvin and Hobbes which is my favourite, and I like that. I often tell people that the ‘great’ bit isn’t ‘great’ as in ‘fantastic’, it’s ‘great’ as in ‘oh great I’ve lost my bankcard’.
We love the lyrics of your songs because they’re quirky and earthy. They’re obviously really personal, but at the same time we find them relatable. What inspires you to start writing? I want to tell people how I feel without having to explicitly tell people how I feel, maybe? I get these feelings when I see or read or hear things, like a sense of being outside of my own experience, for a tiny second, and I want to frame that feeling, rearrange what I saw/heard/read and turn it into something that’s mine. It’s probably something to do with ancient cave paintings…
Do you feel vulnerable from drawing on your own experiences and putting it out there? I often feel stupid. I use my songs to get over things, and when it comes time to put the songs out I’m so far over it that I’m sometimes embarrassed for people to hear. But those really personal songs probably mean the most to the people who are going through something similar (hopefully).
How important was your time at university in relation to your music now? In terms of having space to learn how to live outside of school, and to meet people and be indulged as a person with my own mind and infinite potential, it was incredibly valuable. It makes me depressed that there are about to be generations of people who will be put off by tuition fees or won’t be able to afford to have what I had (for a ninth of the price), and to have that time of freedom and experience.
Even at university, it’s hard to know what you want to do with your life! When did you decide that singing was what you wanted to do? About December 2010! I felt like I was drifting from the moment I left University – I wasn’t sure if music was what I wanted to do, or if I should have studied something more academic, or pursued something with actual job security. It was terrifying. But I think I realised that no one really knows for sure what they’ll end up doing, or where their work will lead them, so I decided to throw myself into this and enjoy the opportunities it gave me, like seeing the world and meeting new people all the time. I think when you leave university you think you have to be on a career path by the time you’re 25, but none of my older friends, or my parents’ contemporaries, who are happy and/or successful are doing what they were doing when they were 25. They also don’t regret what they were doing at 25, which is another reason why I try to enjoy my job – it might be the thing that leads me to my destiny, or it might be my destiny.
How and when did you first get into singing and song writing? I sang harmonies with my dad a lot when I was growing up, just family stuff, but I wanted to be a journalist so I was casual about music. I did some singing at ‘pop’ assemblies at school but focussed on other stuff. Then after my A-levels I encountered boys in bands and decided to get in that world by being in bands myself. At the time I partied a lot and didn’t care if my band was good, as long as we got to play with those that were. This lost its interest very quickly. Around the time I stopped over-indulging I started writing songs for real, and then my demo got around the Internet and this sort of happened.
What advice would you give to students who want to get into music? Work extra hard, meet lots of other musicians, listen to a lot of music, rehearse and write as much as you can. Don’t be snobby. Use the Internet. Do things that excite you, not that you think will excite other people.
What other music inspires you? Most stuff. For example the other day I heard a Britney song on the radio and I thought it was boring, then at the gym I saw the music video and it was really colourful and erratic and when I got home I wanted to write a song. It didn’t sound like hers.
Do you have any other creative outputs, or is music the only one? I do a lot of writing. Some journalism, some private stuff. I wrote a show with a poet called Jack Underwood last month for a festival, which was a fun experience. I used to write stories for the kids in my family but that’s lapsed.
How would you describe ‘Virtue’, your new album, in three words? So Last Year.
One of this issue’s themes is culture. As you spent some of your childhood in Hong Kong before moving to Britain, how far would you say these two cultures have influenced your music? Longing for the British summer time, which meant freedom from the stifling discipline of Chinese school, left me with a heightened sense of the English pastoral (Jerusalem/Arcadia etc). That’s what I used to associate with happiness, with freedom. So when I first started writing, it was with this very classic English/romantic aesthetic. Because I’ve spent most of my adult life as a Londoner, and because of travelling the British countryside and seeing the beauty in distant power stations and motorway cafes, when I came to the second album my idea of a romantic landscape was less strictly rural. And now that I’m happy in myself and have gotten over that feeling of being the odd one out in Hong Kong, I’m starting to embrace my mum’s culture, and have been thinking about the things that make being Chinese, or being from Hong Kong interesting to me. So far I’m watching a lot of Wong Kar Wai and listening to Cantopop. It might lead to something.
What was the last book you read that you would recommend? Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick? Porridge.
What was the most recent addition to your wardrobe, and where was it from? A black vintage handbag from the Buy Sell Trade shop on Notting Hill Gate.
If a stranger asked you to razz their berries, what would you reply? I’m allergic.▪
Razz previewed Emmy the Great’s new album…
best track of the album Paper Forest (In the Afterglow of Rapture)
listen to it when you are feeling stressed/mellow/sleepy or having relationship troubles.
best lyric “Dinosaur sex led to nothing, and maybe we will lead to nothing”
it’s for you if you like Johnny Flynn, Laura Marling, Slow Club, Lisa Mitchell, Tilly and the Wall, Cat Power, Belle and Sebastian, or Feist.
Published in the Summer 2011 issue of Razz My Berries magazine. www.razzmag.blogspot.com
For my last photo shoot as Razz Editor, we visited Dawlish Warren in Devon. Here are the colourful results…
Click on the images to enlarge.
Published in the Summer 2011 issue of Razz My Berries.
To the rest of the world, we British are tea drinking mods, punks or aliceband-wearers. These are undoubtedly stereotypes but this national identity is in a way a simplified version of our actual culture. Our current national identity is loosely based on the last few decades, each period encapsulating a moment in music, fashion and popular culture which in time becomes a generation’s legacy. Sparking many a party theme, these stereotypes keep most fancy dress shops in business.
We remember the nineteen twenties for flapper girls and jazz; the thirties and forties are tea dresses, victory rolls and Picasso. Perhaps more inspired by Grease than the decade itself, the fifties equal Elvis Presley, A-line skirts and pop art. We Brits are especially proud of the 1960s; remembered for many of the cultural emblems that Britain prides itself on: The Beatles, miniskirts and our 1966 world cup win. In the memories of those who lived through the seventies, the decade is plagued by strikes, cuts and turbulent politics but it is more often than not remembered for maxi skirts, discotheques and David Bowie. The same goes for the eighties; in fact a period rife with unemployment, it is defined by an exciting cocktail of neon jewellery, Wham and crimped hair.
“we will always have a soft spot for Pokémon and an irrational desire to own flashing trainers”
So that brings us to the nineties, the decade of girl power and boy bands, flowery leggings and Crystal Maze. Ending spectacularly in the Millennium, our generation will always have the markers of the nineties drawn indelibly on our memories of childhood (check out page nine for some of our readers’ favourite things about the nineties.) But the last ten years will be the decade that our generation will truly remember as the one we grew up in. Yes, we will always have a soft spot for Pokémon and an irrational desire to own flashing trainers, but we will look back at the noughties as the decade in which we left school, got drunk for the first time and had our first kiss. The noughties have guided us from the gawky and difficult preteen years through to our exciting and boundary-breaking late teens, leaving us at the beginning of our twenties and in the marker stone of adulthood that is university. Admittedly the noughties seem less exciting than the decades that preceded them, but we’ve actually come a long way from the Spice Girl-idolising, hair mascara-ing nineties. At the moment, the noughties seem to be negatively defined by 9/11, the war on terror and the credit crunch, but I think our last decade is perhaps a little underrated.
“an exciting cocktail of neon jewellery, Wham and crimped hair”
For starters, film-wise, we’ve got the noughties to thank for Avatar, Slumdog Millionaire, The Lord of the Rings… and of course the Harry Potter franchise. Musically, the last decade has graced us with the likes of Coldplay, Britney Spears and a LOT of indie music. Admittedly noughties fashion is a little less inspiring; the decade is responsible for the popularity of boho chic and skinny jeans as well as UGG boots and, unfortunately, Crocs.
On a more positive note, the noughties have given us Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and Wikipedia – let’s be honest, we’d be lost without them! The last ten years signalled the beginning of the TV talent contest. Starting in 2002 with the first series of Pop Idol, we are now a nation who cannot get enough of X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing, The Apprentice, Come Dine With Me, to name a few… And let’s not forget that in the year 2000 Britain was treated to the very first Big Brother; though ending along with the decade, this series has undoubtedly left us a nation addicted to reality TV.
Whilst most of us were probably mobile phone-less at the beginning of the noughties, those that were lucky enough to have one were proudly sporting a Nokia 5110. Nowadays mobile phones are unrecognisable; touch screens, camera phones, video calls, Angry Birds… all products of the noughties. As are iPods, iTunes, spotify, and last fm. In fact, at the turn of the century, people (shock horror) still listened to tapes.
So, we have a lot to thank the noughties for. Noughties’ culture has made us into the adults that we are today. And some time way in the future, even though now it may seem unlikely, we will reminisce about the noughties in the same way that our mothers go weak at the sound of George Michael’s dulcet tones and still secretly want to wear shoulder pads. Perhaps, God forbid, some of us will even have a noughties themed party for our Fortieth birthdays.
At these parties in the future, we’ll wear gypsy skirts, listen to Justin Timberlake and drink WKD whilst reminiscing about the decade that we all grew up in. I’m sort of looking forward to it – well, looking forward to it in the only way that a 21 year old can actually look forward to being 40.▪
Published in the Summer 2011 issue of Razz My Berries Magazine. Page 13-14.
The summer issue of Razz My Berries magazine is available to view at
The summer issue of Razz My Berries magazine, my last as editor, is being launched on Monday. Emma and I are sure that this is our best issue yet and I am very glad that my time with Razz will be going out with a bang! Copies can be bought for just £1 from the Guild Shop on Streatham Campus.
Inside this issue we are very proud to bring you an interview with singer songwriter Emmy the Great, as well as a preview of her soon-to-be-released album Virtue. Razz also considered the power of the pill, the problem with stereotypes and the legacies which each generation leave behind. We had great fun on the beach shooting for this issue’s British Summertime spread. Here’s a sneak peak at the results:
Whether it’s the NHS, the Police Force or university tuition fees, the government spending cuts have been gracing the front pages of Britain’s newspapers almost every day for the last nine months. With the nation reeling from threats to frontline public services, the prospect of unemployment, and the increase in VAT, it is easy to consider the arts as expendable and cuts to them as trivial. But it’s important that we are aware of the cuts being made and the effects that they might have on our culture and artistic legacy. The government has currently implemented a 15% cut to national museums and galleries, with the possibility of up to 100% funding cuts being administered by local authorities. Quangos such as the UK Film Council and the Museums, Libraries, and Archives Council have been, or will be, scrapped completely. In addition to this the Arts Council England has received a 29.6% cut; a reduction that will inconceivably change the face of Britain’s art and culture. Dubbed ‘Cuts D-Day’, the 30th of March will reveal both the true extent of the arts cuts and the fate of the 1,340 organisations who have applied for funding from the Arts Council.
For a soon to be arts graduate, the cuts are especially worrying; as if the impending end of my degree and the nasal tones of the prophetic Arts Graduate Unemployment Song aren’t stressful enough, cuts to the arts sector will add further damage to the already dire jobs market. I think it’s time we reminded ourselves why the arts are important.
As Picasso poetically put it, “the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls”. Although art isn’t necessary in the same way that the NHS is, life is duller without it. An integral part of British culture, art influences how we live; from our views and opinions to the colour of our wallpaper and the clothes that we wear, the arts are vital to our society. Britain’s film, theatre, fashion, music and art are something we should be proud of; they are stimulating, inspirational and, of course, enjoyable.
We define British culture by the artistic achievements of its past and present. When we study the renaissance we use the work of Shakespeare, Milton, and Spenser (to name a few) in an attempt to understand their society. Aside from the 1966 World Cup win, we define Britain in the 60’s by The Beatles, Pop Art, and Mary Quant. Art defines each decade, century, or civilisation and acts as its lasting legacy. Our generation will be remembered, perhaps in part for our political turmoil, troubled economy and CO2 emissions, but mainly for our contributions to art and culture. In the wise words of Margaret Atwood “when any civilisation is dust and ashes…art is all that’s left over”.
Boasting some of the most iconic museums and galleries in the world, and with thriving theatrical and musical industries, Britain has been having what some are describing as a Golden Age of art. An increasing number of cultural attractions have, through generous amounts of funding, been able to improve their facilities and offer free entry. It has taken years for Britain to create a vibrant art culture that is the envy of the world but it could take no time at all to destroy it. Cutting investment in the arts will lesson opportunities, restrict access to arts and culture, and limit the creative potential of the younger generation. But these cuts are now inevitable and, some would argue, necessary. In spite of the fact that, as the Arts Council outlines on their website, “any cut to the arts will have a disproportionate effect for a relatively tiny saving to the public purse”, it is undeniable that taking more funding away from frontline public services will leave them floundering in a way that it will not leave the arts. While these cuts will change the arts as our generation has known them, it will not mean that they will disappear entirely.
Already there are organisations popping up which are finding new approaches and adapting to the changing context of Britain’s art culture. We can protect our artistic legacy and the organisations and projects that are threatened by the cuts. An example of this is the newly formed We Did This organisation. With “Art for everyone, funded by everyone” as its tagline, We Did This is definitely one of the many organisations that will be formed to help the arts thrive in the face of financial difficulty. Artists and art appreciators alike are showing their support for the arts; the recent ‘Save Our Libraries’ protests proved that Britain won’t let the arts go down without a fight. Art in the 2010s doesn’t have to be remembered for discarded libraries, abandoned artistic organisations and increasing gallery entry prices. The nature of art is to adapt and our artists, musicians, actors and writers are resilient and resourceful; the face of our art culture is already changing. ▪
Show your support or find out more about the arts cuts:
Culture Cuts Blog on www.guardian.co.uk
Published in the Spring 2011 issue of Razz My Berries Magazine.