Voice of Aiko – Interview

About a month ago, I first got news of a neat project happening in London that was all about raising the awareness of the potential dangers of prescription drugs. I thought it would be interesting to interview one of the brains behind the initiative so sent across some questions. 

‘They must be busy’, I thought, on not getting a response and life continued until yesterday. I’d just taken a couple of Nurofen to combat a monster headache when I received a mail asking when the interview might be published. Calista from Voice of Aiko had gone to great trouble to respond but for one reason or another I’d not had sight of her answers.

Here’s the interview in full; a fascinating project and the sort of concept that Sonic Breakfast was established to write about.

(1) To the uninitiated, what is Voice of Aiko? 

Hey guys! My name’s Calista Kazuko I’m a singer/songwriter from London and I’m representing Voice of Aiko today. Voice of Aiko is a new creative collective of musicians, filmmakers, dancers and artists joining forces to campaign for change. An artistic army on a mission!

(2) And what are you doing as your first project? 

Our first project is called ‘Prescription Dream’ and is a collaboration of myself with the incredible producer musicians Samim, Miguel Toro and Jack Brown and incredible filmmaker Enya Belak Gupta. We are working with charities REST, MIND & APRIL to draw a spotlight on an ongoing global prescription drug epidemic.

(3) Prescription Drugs? They’re not so bad really, are they? 

That’s what I thought before working on this project! But in fact prescription drugs can have potential devastating side effects and cause dependency. In England alone there are an estimated 1.5 million people suffering from doctor-induced Benzo drug dependency and more than 1 million patients are taking dependence-forming drugs unnecessarily. Antidepressants are also a major problem and statistics show that roughly 50 Americans die from prescription painkiller overdoses every day. Stopping medication (even low doses) cold-turkey can be dangerous, even fatal.

The figures are frightening and often people won’t realise it’s a medication they are taking, or have stopped taking, that is causing physical or mental changes or that they have become dependent on a medication.

There are great resources online to find out more at:

http://www.benzoinfo.com

http://www.w-bad.org

http://www.april.org.uk

Www.mindincamden.org.uk/resources/articles/minor-tranx

 

(4) What’s influenced you to do this? 

I saw a loved one suffer from the devastating side effects of anti-psychotic drugs when I was younger so I realised that medication can have a serious effect, but I didn’t realise that ‘everyday’ medications can have such an impact as well.

Then last year I met the incredible Millie from charity APRIL (Adverse Psychiatric Reactions Information Link). She opened my eyes to just how harmful prescription drugs can be and I was gobsmacked that I’d never even thought about it. I started talking to friends and colleagues and realised everyone has a story about medication affecting them or someone they know. We formed Voice of Aiko and wanted this to be the subject of our first project.

We live in a prescription world and are often quick to medicate, perhaps unaware of the potential side effects and often without exploring other alternatives first. Now I am aware of the potential dangers, I am able to make more informed, careful choices before popping a pill. If we can get more people talking and thinking like this too, our mission will be complete!


(5) Tell us about the live night you have planned…

To celebrate the collective’s launch and first release, Voice of Aiko are taking over Leman Locke Hotel in Aldgate on Saturday 29th September (sorry folks – missed this) for a magical evening of live music, art, dance, discussion. We will open the event with a conversation room with amazing representatives from the partner charities who will be explaining more about prescription drug problems, what we can do to help and answering any questions. This will be followed by a live performance from stunning musical artists Bumi Thomas and Sera EKE. The CA Contemporary Dance Company led by director Adrian Del Arroyo will be performing a truly unique commissioned piece inspired by the event‘s Prescription Dream theme and the night closes with a very special guest DJ set, drinks, dancing and delight!

50% of all ticket proceeds will go to REST & APRIL, supporting people with prescription drug dependencies. 

 

(6) Any plans to take the live things wider than London? 

For Voice of Aiko not for now – but we all have our own fabulous projects which take us far and wide!

I am in the process of making my debut solo studio album called ‘EMPRESS’ and am loving it! A history of Empresses throughout time this record will be a rollercoaster ride of epic sonic soundscapes! The album also explores the adversities women have had to endure throughout time and the relationship between powerful women and sexuality. I can’t wait to finish it and unleash it unto the world and plan to tour the album with my amazing band Fred Claridge and Sam Weston when it is released next Spring.

 ‘EMPRESS’ the album is available for pre-order exclusively at Pledge Music:

http://www.pledgemusic.com/calistakazuko

For live dates and updates please visit: http://www.calistakazuko.com and join the mailing list.

Awesome filmmaker Enya Belak Gupta who made the beautiful ‘Prescription Dream’ film is always working on weird and wonderful, totally inspired projects too. Enya is the most phenomenal multi-faceted artist, filmmaker, choreographer, creator. It’s super fun to admire her plentiful work in awe! You can follow her latest adventures at: http://www.enya-belak.com/

(7) What future projects do you have up your sleeve? 

Voice of Aiko are excited to start working on our next project straight away with the aim of releasing in late January 2019. This project will be focused on refugee and asylum seeker children, in particular the children who were left in Calais after the Jungle was destroyed. We have some truly incredible artists and collaborations lined up, more to be revealed soon!

And just a couple of general questions to end the interview with::-

(8) Dream festival line-up?

Kate Bush, Freddie Mercury, Supertramp, Fiona Apple, Muse, Portishead, Aqua – IMAGINE!!!

(9) Favourite joke? 

What did the number 0 say to the number 8??

……. NICE BELT!!!!!

Thanks so much for having us and supporting this project.

The Voice of Aiko army welcome you with open, haka-flailing arms! 



 

 

Linda Em – Wild Fire

I’ve never known weeds grow in quite the way that they do out here in Spain. I guess that the rain of the past weeks has helped their considerable spurt. 

I find little joy in gardening but these are no beanstalks leading to magic kingdoms. They’ll just engulf me unless I take action and so, armed with a bucket and a pair of gloves, this morning I set about tackling them. 

‘Tackling’ feels like the right verb to use for this was (and still is) a sporting endeavour. It’s me against nature and despite my very best intentions I suspect that the best I can hope for is a score draw. Or a narrow defeat. 

Regardless, there was great satisfaction to be gained in pulling at them. Their heads popped out of the gravelled driveway masking the submerged stems that wrapped themselves underground around clumps of earth, stone and tarpaulin. The ones that broke off before I got at the root mocked me but some came out of the ground complete. When they did I let out a little yelp of self-congratulation. The stray black cat, that’s made a habit out of spying upon me from a safe distance, smirked as it watched. 

“You crazy, sweat-ridden Englishman”, it no doubt thought.

Try as I might I can find little connection between pulling up garden weeds and todays choice of music. Linda Em, Irish and living in London released her ‘Wild Fire’ EP last week and it’s all sorts of smoky-seductive fab. 

If I was really pushing it, I could suggest that I’d love a wild fire to destroy these weeds. Or I could observe that the lead track is all about a power struggle in a relationship built on control and passion, where there can be no victor. That does feel a little like my battle with the weeds except I have little passion for them. 

No, it’d be foolish to force links. It’s best perhaps to simply sit back and allow Linda’s wonderful tunes to wash over you. Let the candles smoulder as the duet in Wild Fire tells the story of dying, impossible love. Allow yourself ‘the bitter sweet surrender’ mentioned at the end of ‘Two Hands’. 

The weeds will no doubt continue to grow. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferris & Sylvester – Made In Streatham

Today, I’m wearing colourful socks. As part of my efforts to sort out drawers and wardrobes before heading off to Spain I’ve been decluttering. And yesterday evening, it was the sock and pant drawer that got a going over. 

Some decisions were easy. Some pairs of pants had seen better days in the gusset department and the novelty thong-like ones were never a good idea in the first place. I did wonder how I had come to acquire a collection of so many individual black and grey socks. How had they been festering in this drawer for so long? How were these sole socks in any way useful? I couldn’t bear the pain of matching them so the bin now has them.

Result – my sock and pant drawer now looks tidy and vibrant. I mightn’t wear many colourful clothes (black jacket, blue jeans being my go-to position) but I can excel in colourful socks. The bright yellow socks I kept are a sheer delight.

In other news, I’ve been enjoying a sneaky listen to the excellent new EP from Ferris & Sylvester which comes out on Friday. ‘Made In Streatham’ has 5 tracks on it all loosely detailing what modern life in London is like for this aspiring country-folk-pop duo.

They recently released a video for a fine track ‘Better In Yellow’. It’s an uplifting slice of bluesy Americana, which finds the pair adding big brass notes into their mix of guitar licks and beautiful harmonies. 

When asked about the song’s meaning the band say, “We liked the idea of writing about yellow being a positive state of mind, happy and vibrant, instead of settling for greyness. It can be easy to wear black and blend in. Sometimes though, it’s best to be yourself, put on some bright colours and not care too much.”

Which is exactly what I’m doing with my socks.

Another track from the EP, The Room, caught Sonic Breakfast’s attention in 2017. Like some of the finer moments of The Beautiful South, this duet (and accompanying video) charts the ups and downs in a fragile relationship between a couple. It’s both optimistic and desperate, beautiful and sad. And it’s definitely worth five minutes of your time. 

 

 

Joe Innes And The Cavalcade – Moscow

Imagine waking up one morning having dreamt that the love of your life is leaving you. And, they’re not leaving you because they’ve fallen in love with your best friend (which would, of course, be tough enough) but because they’re off to a cold, unfathomable place.

That’s the dream that Joe Innes emerges from in his wonderful new single, Moscow. Clearly, Joe is very much in love with the person who’s making plans to leave and yet that brings up all sorts of moral dilemmas. Do you accept their decision passively without trying to persuade them otherwise? Or do you run the risk of being labelled a controlling bully by pointing out the stupidity of their actions? 

(Click on page 2 for more about Moscow)

Loudon Wainwright III – Surviving Twin – Leicester Square Theatre – March 9th 2017

You can tell much from the conversational snippets heard when leaving the theatre.

“I wouldn’t have wanted him to be my father”, confirms one woman as she buttons up her long beige coat and throws a silk scarf around her neck. “Yes, he does have a tendency to reveal too much, doesn’t he?”, says her partner, all stiff upper lip and British reserve. I chuckle inwardly as the couple head off into the queue to buy a special limited edition CD.

It’s true that Surviving Twin, Loudon Wainwright III’s show about his relationship with his father, is brutally honest. Fans of his style wouldn’t have it any other way but those not familiar with him might have been squirming in their seats at this tender, unflinching offer. We like our own family tensions to be orderly and ‘on a plateau’ but the relationships between the Wainwright dynasty have been anything but. 

(Click on page 2 to read the rest of the review)

L.A. Salami – The News Cafe – ESNS Groningen

It’s been a long and exciting day. I write this as the wind outside howls around the dark and wet streets of Groningen. But I’m ok – AirBNB has worked wonderfully and I have a fab room in the heart of this fine city. 

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know why I’m in the Netherlands. I’m reviewing Eurosonic Noorderslag for eFestivals. The plane from Southend touched down just after 5 and since then it has been all systems go. In the space of a few hours this evening, I’ve seen much that a fuller review will warrant but for now I’ll pick a shorter tale.

I clocked the band on the train from Liverpool Street. I needed a wee and so walked up and down the aisles to try and find a toilet. These shuttles don’t seem to have them but I did walk through a carriage that was laden with trendy looking musicians carrying boxes of equipment. “They must be on their way to Groningen“, I thought to myself.

(Click on page 2 to find out which band it was)

Joe Buzfuz – Now That I’m The Mayor Of London

During the Easter break, we took advantage of Bank holidays and Airbnb offers to spend a few days in London. I go there a fair bit for work stuff but rarely as a tourist so this was actually quite exciting. To be able to meander aimlessly, investigating curious side streets and the wonderful interiors of Samuel Smith pubs, was a whole host of fun. 

Based out in Bermondsey, we weren’t far from Tower Bridge and City Hall, a place I’ve visited a fair few times in my day job. For the uninitiated, it’s from here, in this modern looking mis-shaped egg, that the Mayor of London directs their operation. From the south side of the Thames, the Mayor issues policies, sets ambition and counts their money. 

Some people living away from London (and probably some living in London) will not realise that there’s a Mayoral election campaign running at the mo. Boris has served his dues and has his eyes on a bigger prize and so now Londoners are getting to vote for a new one. Let’s hope they’ve had enough of the Tories by now. 

In ‘Now That I’m The Mayor Of London’, the fab Joe Buzfuz, who co-runs the Blang label, spells out his Dick Whittington manifesto. Some of what he proposes (growing veg in window boxes and keeping bees) is scarily aligned with the thinking of the present incumbent but other more outlandish suggestions (silence every day between two and three) might never come to pass. All of it is gently delivered on a picked and strummed acoustic guitar with the overall effect landing somewhere between an XTC out-take and a folk protest. 

I don’t live in London so I can’t vote. And I’m pretty sure that Joe is not actually standing to be City Mayor. But, if these pretty big barriers were overcome, I’d be proud to say….

‘I’m voting for Buzfuz’.