9/15/2014

Jeff Buckley on Music and Life: A Rare Interview with One of Creative History’s Most Tragic Heroes

“Be awake enough to see where you are at any given time and how that is beautiful and has poetry inside.”
In 1995, while working for an Italian radio station, journalist Luisa Cotardoconducted what would become the most candid, soulful, and profound conversation with legendary musicianJeff Buckley. His only studio album, the now-iconic Grace — which includes Buckley’s extraordinary cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” the song for which he remains best-loved — had been released a few months earlier and Buckley had just performed in the town of Correggio in Northern Italy as part of his European tour. Less than two years later, at the age of thirty, he would drown by accident while swimming in Tennessee’s Wolf River during a tour, becoming one of creative history’s most tragic heroes — doubly so because Buckley’s critical acclaim only crescendoed after his death. Rolling Stone eventually proclaimed him one of the 100 greatest singers of all time.

Cotardo has kindly shared with me her recording of this rare and remarkably rich interview, in which Buckley discusses with great openness and grace his philosophy on music and life. Transcribed highlights below. Via 

German Artist Turns Exhibition Space into "Music Gallery"

Eminent photographer Wolfgang Tillmans isn’t thrilled with the state of music listening today. Our music libraries may be practically endless thanks to a new generation of streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, and Beats. But the quality of the sound that reaches our ears has dropped to a fraction of what once was, thanks to measly speakers on ultra-thin laptops and the white earbuds that have dotted the urban landscape since the iPod was introduced in 2001.

So, Tillmans has turned the Berlin exhibition space that he runs, called Between Bridges, into a listening room fit for the most persnickety of audiophiles. Launched last Friday with an six-week run of the British ’80s sampling pioneers Colourbox, the space will treat pop music with the same reverence given to contemporary art.

For Tillmans, who started his photographic career shooting London’s and Berlin’s rave scene in the early 90s, the space is a chance to re-expose listeners to the breadth of sound that often goes unheard when listening to a track through mainstream speakers or headphones. “Some records are just perfect artworks, but you just cannot go anywhere to listen to the way the musicians heard it at the mastering stage,” he told the Guardian.

He’s fitted the “playback room,” as he calls it, with a pair of top-of-the-line Bowers & Wilkins speakers, lounge chairs, and turned down the otherwise-glaring gallery lights to a dim, ambient glow. One perhaps surprising omission is a turntable; the artist says he prefers CD-quality sound. Future bands haven’t been announced, but Tillmans plans to continue the series after this first entrĂ©e back into serious listening concludes on October 25. Via 

Molly Crabapple: Make a Career That Fits You


In a time when old institutions are restructuring or collapsing, artist and writer Molly Crabapple urges individuals not to change who they are to be “professionally viable.” There is no longer a system you can enter and be set until retirement. Instead, she suggests creating a career unique to you.

…focus in on your weirdness, your passions, and your f***ed-up damage, and be yourself as truly as you can. Express that with as much craft, discipline, and rigor as you can; work as hard as you can to build a career out of that, and then you’ll create a career that you love and that’s true to yourself, as opposed to doing what you think other people want and burning yourself out when you’re older.


Don’t change who you are to fit the work out there — find that work that fits you. [via

Goodbye to cars: Why we should take a good look at Finland's phone-based mobility system


Our mobility future may end up looking something like what they’re working on in transit-friendly Finland, which imagines it can retire the private car in a decade. Even more, it plans a radical transformation of its public transit system that could make traditional light rail and bus systems obsolete.

I was in Helsinki in 2010, and it seemed as auto-centric as any other European capital (meaning, lots of cars but much more centered on biking and transit). But the concept of ride sharing, and innovators like Uber and Lyft, obviously hit hard in Finland. The Finns practically invented the cellphone with Nokia, and I remember it seeming unusual that average folks used them for practically everything four years ago

That use should ratchet up when Helsinki introduces, beginning with a pilot next year, a mobility-on-demand system that functions like city-wide car sharing. All you do, using the app on your phone, is say where you’re starting from and where you want to go, and your trip on appropriate transport is arranged and billed. What’s more, says Helsinki Times, the system should be smart enough to know it’s going to rain, and so route you into a bus rather than a city bike. If it makes sense for the traveler to use several different modes (including a shared car), that can be arranged, too.

Set up properly, the system should be able to bill by the mile, or allow subscribers to buy a monthly unlimited-mileage package. This totally fits with a new generation that is both wedded to their cellphones and somewhat phobic of car ownership. That’s why car sharing is so popular, and spreading everywhere...more at  

The photographer who rejected racism in the American south


At the turn of the 20th Century, life was incredibly difficult for the African-American community in the southern states of the US. But one self-taught photographer used his camera to challenge racial barriers and capture the diversity of the American South.

"I did not know my grandfather but I am very proud that he was able to capture these people in pictures - whether they were black or white, rich or poor, farmers or businessmen," says Martha Sumler.

In an era that was marked by growing racial discrimination and the introduction of what were known as the "Jim Crow" segregation laws, a relatively unknown photographer, Hugh Mangum, did a rare thing - he opened his doors to everyone regardless of their race, gender or how much money they had.

Starting in the 1890s, Mangum, a self-taught itinerant photographer, travelled on the railroads across North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, setting up temporary studios and taking portraits of the people he met.

At that time, states in the South were introducing legislation that enforced segregation - restaurants, shops and hotels had to provide separate facilities for black and white people. Marriage between races was illegal, separate schools were established and public transport was divided. The effort to disenfranchise the African-American population in the region was underway...more at

MUSIC: The Presets - No Fun (RÜFÜS Remix)

MUSIC: Ten Walls - Walking With Elephants

MUSIC: SAFIA - You Are The One