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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Nous Vous: We, You, and Everyone we Know.

Illustration Collective, Leeds

Written by Alice Watson

The ICA has always struck me an odd gig venue; with it’s white lights and shiny floors, viagra 100mg symptoms but on Friday 22nd May, pilule something exciting was rumbling in it’s deep dark underbelly and I went home prepared to eat my hat…
I didn’t know too much about Comet Gain before the gig, viagra 40mg and expected them to be over-shadowed by the rest of the line-up, but they held their own in spectacular fashion with their unique blend of Northern Soul and lo-fi, to create a danceable but refreshing rock n’roll.

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The Bats

Putting age before beauty, the Bats were on right before young whipper-snappers Crystal Stilts; the most magical inhabitants of New Zealand since hobbits. Having been around since the early 80s and having released a string of consistently good records they seemed to have avoided become publicly known and are quite the cult institution. The crowd at the ICA, myself included, are, blown away by their awesome crashing and soaring folky rock, with Crimson Envy going down like a treat. They have the look of the modern day Pixies (kinda old), with a sound that veers towards early Yo La Tengo or Low.

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The Bats

Whilst loving the Crystal Stilts’ debut album, I’m always sceptical of hype bands, but Crystal Stilts most definitely deserve their hype. From the first note, their post-punk, melancholic wall of bassy noise and murmur vocals enrapture the audience. Their single ‘Love is a Wave’, the second song played is a butterfly in the stomach shoe-gaze fest of blurry noise and the rest of the set follows to form.

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Crystal Stilts
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It is perhaps over easy to compare Crystal Stilts to My Bloody Valentine and their shoe-gaze peers, (it seems that a lot of Brooklyn bands at the moment are being shoehorned into a neo-shoe gaze poor fit) and whilst an element of that is present; mostly from Jesus and Mary Chain‘s Psychocandy, Crystal Stilts are more indebted to the Velvet Underground in their sustaining of a glorious continous noise, and the tuneful grumble of Brad Hargett’s voice is not dissimilar to Lou Reed. Whilst having roots buried in a deep and fruitful musical heritage, Crystal Stilts manage to create something unique to themselves. A band not to be missed.

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Crystal Stilts
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Photos appear courtesy of Roisin Conway and Cari Steel

Last week I wrote about skate brand CTRL, what is ed and Finnish streetwear is making us giddy all over again with Daniel Palillo, viagra a Helsinki based designer who has recently hurtled into the fashion world. His designs are distinctively relaxed, salve and when I interviewed him he said simply that he likes that “people actually wear the clothes”, citing street style sites as a really positive influence on fashion.

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Daniel’s designs are curious, seeing an emphasis on ease and comfort coupled with often a dark and strange aesthetic. The focus is on oversized silhouettes, cut-outs and graphic prints, and there’s a lot of interest in wearability. I think it’s a hard thing to couple both notions of fashion and comfort without sacrificing one for the other, and it’s a delicate balance to strike.

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Daniel’s designs, like the CTRL boys, extract the relaxed and unselfconscious element of sportswear as well as making them stylish and progressive. Daniel says that “it’s important for me to feel cosy” and I think it’s an enjoyable philosophy in terms of an aesthetic, seeing clothes that look familiar and worn, but simultaneously edgy.

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In a post-Beckham universe with the media heralding the triumph of the metrosexual male, skinny jeans, brogues and hair gel, it’s refreshing to see a designer who sends his models down the runway in beaten up pairs of sneakers. Daniel believes that “clothing should be more than a collar shirt and chino pants”, instead making way for the wardrobe for the moody younger brother who has emerged from his room, tousle-haired and sore-thumbed from too much videogaming, only to head off down the street to cause some trouble somewhere. The graphic prints recall 90s videogames like PacMan and Frogger, juxtaposed with relentlessly modern silhouettes. His Spring/Summer ’09 collection was inspired by ice hockey players and sailors, but equally he says his ideas can be generated by the epic act of hitting search into Google Image.

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This younger brother has got a black side, though. The sense of familiarity is complicated by the movement into the darker realms of nightmarish fairytales, aliens, ghosts and monsters of the videogames themselves. It’s a darkness that Daniel says is influenced by Finland itself, maintaining “we are very pessimistic people here. It’s dark for all the winter, so I guess it affects the way we work.”

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I think the pessimism is countered by something else, and a lot of people have found the tragicomic element of Daniel’s clothing one of the most extraordinary facets, as with the print of the eerie skull with a bouffant hairstyle, an example of two totally non-sequitar ideas that are difficult to respond to with any clarity about how it makes you feel. This is an idea reflected in his interest in playing with proportions of the human body, with his models often striking unnatural poses that impress the sense of distortion from the garments themselves.

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The humour certainly throws the melancholy into focus, and he says that “thats definitely the way I look at life. You can find so many funny things in the saddest things in life”.

You Look Cold left me hot under the collar, viagra buy this debut album from 24 year-old, patient Irish Patrick Kelleher is awe-inspiring in it’s genre-bashing brilliance and refreshing take on a myriad of musical references. Swinging from Vincent Gallo‘s most whispery nonchalance to thumping electro beats circa Talking Heads with David Byrne/ Ian Curtis shouty vocals (‘He Has to Sleep Sometime’) via an obvious interest early 90s hip-hop, perhaps A Tribe Called Quest most noticeably, no small feat for one man!

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There is a vulnerable innocence to Kelleher’s music, it would be too easy to pigeon-hole him as a Sufjan Stevens/ early Patrick Wolf troubadour figure. He consistently avoids being fey or folky by a unique drum loops, his sheer vocal range and spooky sampling and unexpected rhythm pattern worthy of Animal Collective, this is particularly noticeable on the wonderful ‘Coat to Wear’ and ‘Finds You’ . ‘Multipass’ whilst a midpoint interval from the Avey Tare-esque bumps and bangs, stands out as a personal favourite, with it’s quiet electronic epicness.

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This album whilst crammed with diverse reference points and orchestral density avoids convolution or verbosity by having the defined structure of a true masterpiece, with leitmotifs that re-occur, like the Casio keyboard or drum machine. Kelleher clearly has the talent, intelligence and sound knowledge of lo-fi production (most noticeably cassettes although this is never the focal piece of the sound production) to create something that is not in anyway derivative and totally unique to himself.
Kelleher deserves a lot of recognition for this intelligent, spookily erratic and starkly beautiful record.

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You Look Cold’ by Patrick Kelleher is released on 13th July on Osaka Records
Good things come in fours. The Beatles, cost leaves of clovers, aces in a pack and now boys from Leeds. The quartet go by the name Nous Vous (French for “We You”) and are equal parts Tom Hudson, William Edmonds, Nicolas Burrows and Jay Cover. They work individually and they work collectively, producing astounding work that has paraded walls and spaces around the country including Shoreditch’s Jaguar Shoes, Edinburgh’s Analogue and Leeds’ Project Space.

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In their own words the framework of the collective allows them to be a ‘responsive, amorphous entity, embracing new and diverse projects from graphic design commissions for a range of clients, to launching publishing projects and record labels, exhibitions, curating and teaching.’ I pinned them down for a bit of question time in order to get to know them just a little better.

Hey, Nous Vous, what makes you so awesome?
The fact that someone might think we are awesome makes us feel pretty awesome

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Is there a story behind the name?
It came from the phrase ‘Nous Vous Apprecions’ which is ‘we appreciate you’ in French. The sentiment is the important thing, ‘Nous Vous’ (We/You) looks and sounds better, and applies to lots of ways in which we work.

Where, when and how did you guys all meet?
Jay and Tom studied at Leeds College of Art & Design and started working together. Nic and Will studied at the university of Leeds and started collaborating as well. Then we all met through friends and other stuff, had an exhibition and went from there.

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What backgrounds do you all herald from? Are they similar?
Yeah they are all pretty similar in terms of education. We all studied Vis Com or Graphic Design. None of us in actually from Leeds and we all came here to study.

What advantage is there to working in a collective rather than putting yourself out there solo?
Support, pooling of resources, broader skillset, lower costs, bro-time…

How does Leeds compare to London in terms of creativity and opportunity?
Well having never lived in London we’d find it hard to fairly compare, but from our experiences London has a larger network of people interested in the things we are doing, though there are opportunities in Leeds as well, and we are always looking to take advantage of those.

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Is there any plans to expand the group?
No, we don’t work like a conventional studio, taking on extra staff. We work together because of the strong dynamic we have and we wouldn’t want to jeapordise that.

Which illustrators/artists do you most admire?
Kim Hiorthoy, Olle Eksell, Stefan Marx, David Hockney

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If you weren’t artists, what would you be doing?
Sitting on a mountain

What advice would you give to up and coming artists?
Try hard every day

Who or what is your nemesis?
Apathy

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If you could travel back or forward to any era, where would you go?
We’d rather stay here. We’d probably be pretty useless anywhere else

What piece of modern technology could you not live without?
Dolby 5.1 surround sound and 96-inch plasma screens…

Tell us something about Nous Vous we might no know already.
Jay was in the film ‘Stormbreaker’ starring Mickey Rourke. Fact.

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What would be your pub quiz specialist subject?
Jurassic Park (1 and 2. Not 3)

What band past or present would provide the soundtrack to your life?
Ivor Cutler

I say Modern art is rubbish, you say..?
Some is, some isn’t

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Who would be your top 5 dream dinner guests?
Will Oldham, Nick Cave, Stephen Fry, Adam Buxton, Joe Cornish

What is your guilty pleasure?
39p fizzy straws from Morrisons

What’s next for nous vous?
More exhibitions, more zines, more books, more…

These boys are super supreme. Who would you form a collective with?

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One Response to “Nous Vous: We, You, and Everyone we Know.”

  1. love your magazine and love these lads!

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