Amelia's Magazine | Girls – A Live Review – The Prince Albert, Brighton

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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Girls – A Live Review – The Prince Albert, Brighton

With their surf pop infused blissful shoegaze, these boys don't disappoint

Written by Liv Willars

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Amelia’s Magazine spoke to CSM fine art graduate turned fashion designer Yang Du about the research required and subsequent process behind producing a runway collection. Unsurprisingly for one who has studied with Vivienne Westwood, advice more about Giles Deacon and John Galliano and whose inspiration are Victor & Rolf and Castelbajac. Yang Du presented her SS10 collection as part of On|Off (see previous coverage at London Fashion Week). The collection of bold coloured oversized dresses represent the possibility of fun whilst being an eclectic interpretation of everyday clothes.

The press release mentions that her “previous two collections are like my travel diaries…”

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Subsequently this interview started with the following question:

What was the inspiration behind the new collection and did it involve an aspect of your recent travels?

I was in Ecuador for three weeks in April; I spent a few days in the rain forest and hung out with the local children. We sang, medicine danced and drew together, ed it was wonderfully peaceful.

Those kids live in very basic condition; they all have these over-sized T-shirts which were left by previous visitors. These discarded and re-used t-shirts were the starting point of my collection. They are fun designs that I see people wearing.

How was London Fashion Week as part of On|Off?

It was a great experience to work with OnlOff and they have been incredibly supportive through the whole process of Fashion Week, I was able to go to Paris as of the On|Off showroom. There has been great encouragement to work with someone who is special and inspirational to you, being around or seeing these people makes you want to be able to do it yourself.

How was Paris?

The high light for me would be going to the JCDC Show, and meeting Castelbajac back stage.

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Can you expand on the influence of Franco Moschino for me?

I love the idea of fashion sending a message into life, the possibility of it it making a statement.

How did the exhibition Soho happen?

A friend of mine Tian-tian, a sound artist, who I had met a few times accidently as we both went to the same gigs, the last being Yoko Ono. We started to talk about working together at the some point in the future and now she is curating my solo exhibition at Assembly Room, it is a very sweet place.

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You were previously a Painter, studying at Central Saint Martins, how was the transition to Fashion Design?

Like many designers I trained at art school first, but I have always been interested in fashion. My mum studied pattern cutting, and made all my clothes when I was young.

Where did the ideas of the hats in the SS10 Collection spring from?

I was in the flower market, taking photos of everyday people and there was suddenly a moment where carton images appeared in my head. Everyone became a different kind of plant according to their look and what they wearing. It is from this place of imagination, that the cacti hats came from.

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May I ask about your design ideology?

My ideology… I am very open-minded to new things, and mostly, look at things from a very different angle. I often go on trips, where I take lots of photos and meet lots of people. When I come back to London, I always have so much in my mind, some of them like stories which I really want to share through the clothes I design.

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How did you decide to produce your designs through knitwear?

It was the right material to work with at the time according to the concept. The use of wool produced the right mood for that collection. I want to find a media that translates my painting without literally knowing what it is that is being translated.

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Yang Du currently has an exhibition at the Assembly Rooms in Soho, I would thoughly recommend a trip that provides the opportunity to view her sketchbooks and most recent designs

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The eponymous debut album by Californian space cadets, check Girls, approved has been delighting our stereo at Chateau Amelia for some time now – read the album review here – and we have been itching to catch their distilled surf pop live. These boys don’t disappoint.

After support band Swanton Bombs perform a strong set so tight that NME would be salivating at the ears, San Francisco’s Girls take to the stage and begin to jam until the between sets music lowers. Four males are left on stage stood under the dusty glitter ball, with a massive fan blowing singer Christopher Owens’ hair. Yeah, a huge fan, directed straight at the stage, conjuring up images of a 90s Celine Dion video, achieving the effect we can only attempt in front of the mirror with a hair dryer. It’s a pretty strange addition in such a small venue as Brighton’s Prince Albert in the English Autumn, but Christopher seems at ease with looking slightly cheesy and after a few songs it is forgotten about. With childish jokes about their “biggest fan” aside, there is little else to mock about Girls.

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The duo – lead singer and guitarist Christopher with bassist JR – are joined for live performances by a drummer and second guitarist, lifting their pop-infused, blissful shoegaze, reminiscent of The Beach Boys‘ wistful harmonies and surf guitar on Pet Sounds. They play the kind of dreamy, beautiful soundscapes favoured by Deerhunter and Crystal Stilts, but without the darker, experimental elements. Though Girls are in no way of a sunny disposition. A lot of the songs were written by Christopher after a break-up, hence the opening lyrics: “Oh I wish I had a boyfriend, I wish I had a loving man in my life” of Lust For Life (possibly their best song to date). Their music is touched with softened melancholy rather than spiralling doom, and the sadness is honest and hopeful (“And I don’t wanna cry, the whole night through, I wanna do some laughing too… so come on, come on, come on, come on and laugh with me”), holding an innocence that is difficult to capture, especially live.

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I have been listening to Girls for a while now and had never compared the two, but under the radiant sounds there are slight Jarvis Cocker-isms in the vocal style (such as the “that’s right!” in ‘Ghost Mouth’ and “oh yeah.. alright” in ‘God Damned’). Maybe if Pulp had originated in San Francisco rather than the grey skies of Sheffield, they would sound a little something like this. Either way, the music Girls create is set to prove those citing them as yet another lo-fi band very, very wrong.

Catching the band before the show, they were quick to point out their distaste at being lumped in with that current buzzword, admitting that when recording: “We were just making do with what we had”. And even off record, their refined songwriting beats heavily through the melodies, crisp and clear, a world away from any association with lo-fi.

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Though they may not be purveyors of showmanship or on-stage banter, Girls perform with integrity and produce nostalgic, cathartic sounds that capture the essence of friendship, love and heartache to keep you company on rainy evenings.

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