Behind The Decks: An Interview with Dusky

Over the past few years, London based producers Nick Harriman and Alfie Granger-Howell, better known as Dusky, have become synonymous with the UK House and Techno scene.

With a production career spanning over ten years and their critically acclaimed sound being lauded by contemporaries such as Jamie Jones and Sasha, to current commercial royalty Calvin Harris, school friends Nick & Alfie have successfully established themselves as leaders in the industry.

Here we attempt to get behind the decks and into the mysterious minds responsible for tunes like Flo Jam and spreading their sound around the world with shows from Melbourne to Miami.

http://thenannycollective.com.au/our-nannies/ Hey guys, first things first – how did the name ‘Dusky’ come about?

N: It took us quite a while to create it! We had a project before, ‘Solarity’ and when we started working on tracks we were unsure whether to release stuff under that name or not. We spent months working it out. We wanted a word that wasn’t being used by anyone else, a word that was catchy, and we came up with ‘Dusky’. It relates back to ‘Solarity’ as it’s to do with light, so there is a slight connection, but it was just because it sounded catchy!

cytotec in Canada You appear to have mastered both performing and producing, but which do you prefer?

N: Both. We’ve been producing, as well as performing, for about the same amount of time and they go hand in hand, I can’t imagine doing one without the other. They’ve both got an enjoyable side. The balance we’ve got at the moment is good – we’re able to perform at the weekends and keep our heads down during the week and focus on writing stuff.

generic cytotec without prescription Well that was a cop out. You’re playing some amazing venues at the moment but would you say you’ve ever had a nightmare of a set?

A: We haven’t had a bad one for years. We’ve both paid our dues and played a lot of parties where we’ve ended up playing the graveyard shift at five or six in the morning when there’s about two people left. Not particularly fond memories but luckily I don’t think we’ve had a bad gig for a long time.

Touch wood.

Yeah, I’m usually one of the two people left. Any pre-set rituals?

A: It depends on the gig – sometimes, if we have no delays, we get there early and drink and dance or if it’s a late set, sometimes even have a nap before we go on!

A nap!? In light of Alex Turner’s recent speech about Rock and Roll at the Brits – what’s the most Rock and Roll thing you’ve ever done?

A: We’re not divaish and we don’t have the right to act like that – those that do, that’s their prerogative. We’re in quite a well-paid job and we’re very fortunate.

Rock and Roll is dead. You’ve received some pretty big plaudits over the years. Are there any up and coming acts you want to back for this year?

N: Someone we always say is Paleman, from Manchester, who releases stuff on 81. Excited to hear what he’s got to offer this year.

Who would you class as your influences?

N: We always get asked this question and it’s a difficult one as our influences are constantly changing. Anyone I really admire at the moment, I might not in six months, or even in a week. It’s difficult to pin point one artist.

A: It’s easier to say that we’re fans of all forms of music and try to listen to as much stuff as possible.

You two are very non-committal. Anyone you find over rated?

N: Yeah, a lot of the EDM guys.

Yes! Fed up of hearing them?

N: No, because I don’t listen to commercial music really. Oh, actually in a taxi for a few hours on the way to the airport, the driver had a commercial EDM station on and I must have heard that Avicii song about 12 times. I was almost in tears, it was horrible. I’ll be happy never to hear that again.

Tickets for all events available online at: http://chibuku.eventgenius.co.uk
Physical tickets also on sale in Liverpool at 3B Records, The Font Bar and Resurrection.

Chibuku – Saturday 18th October
Arts Club – Liverpool
DUSKY
Daniel Avery
Leon Vynehall
Lorca
Holly Lester
Doors: 23.00 – 04.00
£16 NUS / £18 general

Originally published for OPEN Magazine.

Interview: Ben Pearce

Since he dropped his debut full length EP back in October 2012, it’s been non stop for House music’s man of the moment, Ben Pearce. Most will recognise his name from his deep-house debut, ‘What I Might Do’, which has dominated club floors and radio airwaves and there seems to be plenty more where the oddly anthemic track came from.

Hailing from Manchester, Ben had a variety of influences growing up which may explain his impressive ability to play a wide range of genres. Although relatively new to the scene, high profile support from the likes of Heidi, Jamie Jones and Pete Tong is cementing Ben Pearce’s name as one to watch over the next few years.

Not just content with all this, Ben has also found the time to co-found the record label and agency, Purp & Soul, with Chris Farnworth which is already home to ten young, UK based talents.

OPEN caught up with him to chat musical influences, soul destroying sales jobs and pre-set rituals ahead of the Bugged Out Weekender in March at Pontins, Southport.

Your song, ‘What I Might Do’ has been everywhere these past few months – How is it hearing your music getting played in places?

Quite surreal. I’m getting used to it now but the first few times were definitely  surreal. I don’t really  listen to the radio myself that much but hearing it in shops is kind of weird.

I’m so overwhelmed with how much people love it and the reaction to when I play it is still a surprise. It’s great.

How did you get into DJing? Is it always something you’ve wanted to do?

I was a promoter first, growing up I was into bands before I got more into electronic music. I started promoting electro nights then a friend gave me a mixer and a pair of turn tables and I just started to learn and it went from there. I was about 18 when I started and I’ve not really looked back.

Any crappy jobs before starting all this?

Yes, plenty. I kind of worked in various shops and offices and did sales and lots of soul destroying office work and I was eventually a manager in a bank call centre before I did this.

Not tempted to go back at all?

Hahaha. Not really if I can avoid it.

You’re playing in Liverpool on Saturday (the interview took place just before Ben played Chibuku along side Dusky Klangkarussell and Cyril Hahn) – You looking forward to playing here and how do you prepare for a set?

I’m definitely looking forward to coming over. Last time I played in Liverpool was for Abandon Silence and that was such good fun. I don’t really prepare at all to be honest. I buy new music all the time and I have my favourite songs; I organise the new music on what show I bought the music for but I don’t usually end up playing any of it, I just improvise maybe an hour before and go from there.

No rituals at all then?

No, there’s no planning at all. I only ever plan podcasts and that and they’re a different listening experience. They have to flow very well and if you’re in a club and it’s not a very serious techno party, which sometimes they are, people just want to hear what they want to hear at the time and have fun.

You’re from Manchester. Home of Sankeys and WHP etc. What was your music scene like when growing up as a teenager?

When I was a teenager I was into heavy metal and bands so a bit different to what I play now! Bands like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bowling for Soup, Taking Back Sunday – I certainly didn’t have a pair of decks as a young teenager like some DJ’s.

You’ve been involved with Purp & Soul since last Autumn – how is that for you?

It’s great. It’s a lot more work for me but it’s very rewarding. I’m in a position now where I can help give others a chance. We’re a tight crew of artists and we all seek each other’s opinion on new projects and we get along great. It’s cool.

Any long term ambitions – any dream places you want to play or any artist you want to work with?

Who knows? I’ve only been doing this a year so it’s just about seeing what happens. I let my manager do the planning about the future.

Originally published in OPEN Magazine

Interview: Paul Oakenfold

Originally published for OPEN Magazine

With a career spanning three decades, Grammy nominations, endless collaborations and residences across the world, it’s safe to say Paul Oakenfold is one of the true legends in the electronic music world. He can apparently also be rather tricky to interview (read Thump’s The Worst Interview of All Time with Paul Oakenfold). However, when I caught up with him last week I was rather hopeful. After all, we had a lot to discuss; his new record with Azealia Banks, his US Trance Mission Tour, his third album release and of course, the return to his spiritual home at Cream, Nation, for their 21st Birthday party on Saturday 12th October 2013.

I got ten minutes on the phone to Paul in his LA based Perfecto offices and this is what happened:

OPEN: Hi Paul, it’s Zoë from OPEN Magazine in the UK – you ready to start the interview?

Paul Oakenfold: Yeah, let’s go – let’s do this.

Brilliant. Now you’re about to embark on a US Trance Mission Tour. Trance in the US is a tricky thing to sell, is increasing the popularity of Trance over in America a personal ambition of yours?

No not really (Long pause).

[This was a worrying start]

I wouldn’t look into it too deeply. When I had my residency in Las Vegas I was playing a lot of what is known as ‘the big room sounds’ which I find very melodic and I even showcase that on my new CD. We just came up with an idea that trance in the US, as you said, is not necessarily that popular – I love it but they don’t really have the history of trance and we came up with an idea of sharing that by doing some original productions, 2013/2014 versions, of some of the great songs back in the day and we thought we’d put a tour around it.

Basically, we’re going to do a 2013/2014 fresh production of a record that’s 15 years old. It’s not a remix, it’s a full production – it’s a cover version, that’s what it is.

You did over 200 shows in 2012 and obviously you’re about to embark on this tour – how much does touring impact on your personal life? A big negative effect?

Yeah of course it does. I stopped DJing for a while, I was working on music for films and games and I had my residency in Las Vegas. Three years ago I was going there every Saturday, I wasn’t doing a lot of DJing. But then I wanted to go on the road and I was really enjoying it. I love travelling and seeing the world – I’m very lucky I can do that through music but it does have a negative – you’re not with you’re family, you’re not at home, you don’t see your friends as much as you’d like to but that’s part and parcel of it and I’m still lucky that I can go on tour and enjoy it.

You seem to have quite a positive view – do you follow @DJsComplaining  on Twitter?

*Long laugh* [I was very relieved he laughed] I didn’t even know that!

That’s funny – I have to see that. Who put that together? Is that new? You know what we should do? We’ve got to get in touch with DJ magazine and they’ve got to do an award for the biggest DJ moaner. That’s what we’ve got to do, definitely. It would be funny.

It’s such a wonderful job – seeing the world through music, sharing and learning and experiencing, it’s great. Sometimes, when you are tired you do moan – especially us English, that’s what we do, right? But you’ve got to put your feet on the ground and realise how lucky you are and maybe these people don’t. But I think if you keep your feet on the ground and really think it through you will realise how lucky you are.

You’ve recently worked with Azealia Banks on the single ‘Venus’ – how was that?

Yeah, I like Azealia. She’s got a good balance of understanding commercial, young new music and she’s also really edgy – she’s got a lot of attitude that comes with it. I like that. I really enjoy working with her.

Some of the music press are suggesting that Azealia is getting more caught up in twitter beef, being a bit of a gobshite and believing her own hype before her debut album’s even been released – any advice for her?

I haven’t heard or seen that – I don’t know what’s going on!

Did you like the record?

Yeah, it’s really good. [It would have been pretty awkward continuing the interview if I hadn’t]

Good. Cool.

Your third album has been hotly anticipated. I’ve seen you quoted as saying that House music is pop music now and your new album is mainstream. How do you feel about that?

I’ve produced Madonna, I’ve worked with U2, Justin Timberlake, Azealia Banks – I’ve worked in the mainstream world, I don’t have a problem with it. I’ve focussed on songs, working with great young new talent, not the obvious big names, with cutting edge beats and hopefully people will like that.

Disclosure are on the same label as Lady Gaga and BEP and their record is being played on daytime radio in America. Would you say Disclosure are pop? Of course they’re not but they’re mainstream – well done to Disclosure. They made a great record, people really like it so why not share it and let everyone in on it – it’s a great record.

How do you feel about the fact the term EDM seems to have replaced Dance & House for a term for that genre? It’s a bit Americanised don’t you think?

*Laughs* Well, what does EDM stand for?

Electronic Dance Music.

What do we make?

Electronic Dance Music. [I feel a bit silly at this point]

There you go. Isn’t Techno electronic dance music? I mean, I wouldn’t worry about it. I mean, it’s just another name that America can understand and it’s no big deal. There’s DJ’s screaming and shouting ‘Ooo it’s EDM’ – IT STANDS FOR ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC. All music that we do in our genre is electronic. Chill out, it’s not a big deal. Let’s look at the positive sides – let’s look how big the scene has become and we’re all doing well in the scene and there’s a lot of great moments coming out the scene, globally. It’s the biggest it’s ever been, for all of us. Take a step back, breathe, count to ten and enjoy it. It doesn’t matter.

You had residences in the US, Amnesia and Pacha in Ibiza and obviously, Cream in Liverpool. Where has been your favourite place / favourite era to have been playing over the years?

Well, you’ve named ‘em all – apart from Ministry of Sound, which I opened. I’m English, I’m born in London – I have an amazing relationship with Cream in Liverpool and Ministry, both my residencies. Cream was UNBELIEVABLE. I’m so lucky that the weekend I come back to England. I get to play Ministry of Sound on Friday, and Cream Saturday! Ibiza was special as I went there when no one was doing residences, just like with Vegas and went against the grain as an English guy trying to do that. They only had Spanish residences. Those bits of my career where important to me.

Everyone knows – I’ve said it so many times – I have an amazing relationship with Liverpool and the people that have been coming to Cream for many years. I am a very lucky person. I am so looking forward, so many friends there – I used to come up every single weekend for many years – I’m really looking forward to coming back and seeing everyone and you know, I’ll play you a few classics – I know everyone has been asking me and I will. And, you know, as I say once again, I’m very fortunate and lucky and I cannot wait to come back.

You coming? Come say Hi.

I will do. Think my time’s up now – thanks for a great interview.

You too, take care. See you at Cream.

Turns out Paul Oakenfold isn’t a knob head at all, he’s actually pretty sound if you ask him some questions that aren’t just about Cher’s Twitter feed & emojis; you can actually get a decent chat out of him.

Paul Oakenfold ft Azealia Banks Venus from the album Pop Killer is out now

You may also enjoy: Behind The Decks: An Interview With Dusky 

Review: Ladies Day

Kevin Alexander has backed a winner with the hilarious Ladies Day as his debut show as Artistic Director at The Royal Court.

Amanda Whittington’s heart-warming comedy sees four Liverpool lasses working in a fish factory and dreaming of a better life. When one of the girls, Pearl, decides upon early retirement, they decide to leave their troubles at home for the day and try their luck at Aintree’s infamous Ladies Day.

Dressed to impress, the girls embark upon a champagne-fuelled day of racing and revelations. A constant stream of laughter is heard from the stalls, as the four women treat the audience to top comedic performances.

The chemistry between the characters is flawless and it’s evident that the four girls got on as well off stage, as they do on – something Roxanne Pallett (Shelley) was keen to point out.

“We’re like a bargain basement version of ‘Sex and The City’,” she laughs when discussing her cast-mates.

“I think that the four characters have that vibe in which everyone can relate to one of them.

“You’ve got someone who’s very vulnerable, a feisty one, someone who says the wrong thing at the wrong time, someone who’s got a secret – each character goes on a real journey.

“There’s a great unity between us, on and off stage. I love these girls and I love my character. Everyone’s got a loud friend like Shelley.”

As she mentioned, Roxanne’s character Shelley certainly is loud and steals the show with her outrageous one-liners.

“Shelley’s a great character to play,” Roxanne revealed, “she idolises the likes of Katie Price and is the kind of girl who will buy a magazine and buy everything from it.

“My outfit is just outrageous. I was actually a judge at Aintree Racecourse this time last year and I’ve been flicking through some pictures – there’s a few girls with their extensions in, all dolled up and then they’re snapped with a portion of chips in one hand and a blue WKD in the other which I think is priceless – that’s Shelley to a T.”

Chatting to Click before the show, Roxanne revealed how she could not wait to start playing larger than life Shelley. “This role is so different from what I normally play,” she says “I usually get roles for either the victim or the villain so it’s nice to play someone so full of life and comedic. It was a real compliment that the director cast me alongside three genuine, authentic scousers.”

The three authentic scousers in question are Royal Court regulars Eithne Browne and Lynn Francis, who both give yet another solid performance and bounce well off one another, and newcomer Angela Simms, who was perfect in the part of ditzy Tony Christie enthusiast Linda.

A special mention must go to Jack Lord, the only male in the cast, who plays an impressive six roles and immerses himself into each; it’s hardly noticeable that the jack the lad tout is played by the same person portraying the hapless, hungry jockey.

Ladies Day is a fantastic, feel good comedy which everyone should be quick to catch whilst it’s out the stalls!

Cast: Roxanne Pallett, Lynn Francis, Eithne Brown, Angela Simms, Jack Lord
Running time: 135 minutes

You may also enjoy: Interview: Roxanne Pallett

 

Interview: Roxanne Pallett

It’s a case of mixing business with pleasure for former Emmerdale star,  Roxanne Pallett as she returns to her second home of Liverpool to star in Amanda Whittington’s new comedy Ladies Day.

LJMU graduate Roxanne will star as the fame hungry Shelley in The Royal Court’s latest comedic offering.

The feel-good comedy centres around 4 fish-packing factory colleagues who leave their troubles at home for a fizz-filled day at the races.

Roxanne revealed how she cannot wait to start playing larger than life Shelley. “This role is so different from what I normally play,” she says “I usually get roles for either the victim or the villain so it’s nice to play someone so full of life and comedic. It was a real compliment that the director cast me alongside 3 genuine, authentic Scousers.”

The 3 genuine Scousers in question are, Royal Court regulars, Lynn Francis and Eithne Brown and new face, Angela Simms. “We’re like a bargain basement version of Sex and The City,” laughs Roxanne when discussing her cast-mates. “I think that the four characters have that vibe in which everyone can relate to one of them. You’ve got someone who’s very vulnerable, a feisty one, someone who says the wrong thing at the wrong time, someone who’s got a secret – each character goes on a real journey. There’s a great unity between us, on and off stage. I love these girls and I love my character. Everyone’s got a loud friend like Shelley.”

 

“Shelley’s a great character to play,” she reveals “she idolises the likes of Katie Price and is the kind of girl who will buy a magazine and buy everything from it. My outfit is just outrageous. I was actually a judge at Aintree Racecourse this time last year and I’ve been flicking through some pictures – there’s a few girls with their extensions in, all dolled up and then they’re snapped with a portion of chips in one hand and a blue WKD in the other which i think is priceless – that’s Shelley to a T.”

Roxanne speaks with nothing but love for her 3 years spent as a student in Liverpool; “I just love being back, whenever I get a free weekend I do like to come to Liverpool to see friends. I absolutely love the city.” Fresh from her stint with The Rocky Horror show, recently appearing at The Empire, Roxanne mentions how she feels she’s come a full circle with Liverpool. “There’s just something so magical about this city, I think a lot of people’s dreams come true here; I’ve just been at The Empire and now I’m at The Royal Court; my dreams started in Liverpool and now I’m here on stage so it’s really nice.”

You can catch Roxanne on the very stage she talks about at The Royal Court Theatre from 14th June – 13th July. Tickets and information are available from www.royalcourtliverpool.com or on 0870 787 1866.

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Interview: Dawn O’Porter (Part 2)

Originally published for Claire House Magazine 

Dawn O’Porter is making a name for herself for being one of Britain’s best-loved female personalities. She’s a fit, funny feminist who takes an original approach to everything she does (she recently married Irish Hollywood star, Chris O’Dowd and rather than just take his surname, decided to merge the two.) She spent her 20’s making documentaries on everything from slimming down to a size zero to investigating polygamy.

She’s now turned her hand at becoming a best-selling novelist. I caught up with Dawn at the Liverpool signing of her book, Paper Aeroplanes (give it a read, it’s not just for the kids) to discuss her drinking days in Liverpool, Scouse Brows and feminism.

Hi Dawn, it’s not really mentioned much but you actually used to live in Liverpool (Dawn was a student at LIPA) – did you enjoy your time in Merseyside? This is going to be a really awkward interview if you didn’t…..

I LOVE Liverpool. I had an absolutely great time here. When I left, I didn’t look back because life got so busy in London but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have the most amazing time here. I remember having such a good time but it was so different. The social life was smaller, I think it was the Finch and Furkin on Hope Street. Is The Pilgrim still open? I was there all the time. Zanzibar? I wouldn’t have a clue where to go nowadays.

The Pilgrim’s still around, don’t worry. Now we’ve confirmed that you love Liverpool, you can tell us; what’s your favourite thing about Scousers?

Scousers are so much fun to go out on the piss with! I had a few local friends when I was here. My social life wasn’t massively about my course and I had a little group of friends and we hung with a lot of Scousers. I love Liverpool humour. This guy Joey – Joey, if you’re reading this I don’t know where you are or what happened to you – but he used to make me laugh so much. He was old school Liverpool, he was about 40 odd when I were at college and he would just hang out with us and make us laugh all day. I’ve never forgotten him and he was one of the funniest people in the whole world. Scousers were great for a days drinking – and that’s all I really did here if I’m honest!!

Now, your book Paper Aeroplanes is about two teenage girls and is marketed as a young adult read, any plans for literature just for the grown ups?

 These two books (Paper Aeroplanes and the sequel Goose which Dawn is currently writing) are young adult but I’d like to keep writing about these two girls, Renee and Flo, all their life. I’ve already mapped out the 3rd book which is them in their 20’s and the 4th will be them in their 30’s. They’ll obviously be aimed at adults because the characters will have grown up. The idea is to keep the audience growing with the book, that would be ideal.

I didn’t write it any differently to how it would have been if the book was for adults; I didn’t think about teenagers when writing it – I thought about female friendship. I don’t have a teenager audience yet, so most of the readers have been 25 plus and the response has been amazing.

Now regardless of what Janet St Porter thinks (Janet called Dawn a traitor to feminism for taking an advert campaign for Andrex Washlets), you are one of Britain’s strong feminist role models – who inspires you?

 I actually went on Loose Women with her the other day and she was so nice to me!! She didn’t mention it but I think what she probably realised when I got there was that I wasn’t the stupid idiot that she’d made me out to be. In response, I said in another paper that I thought it made her sound like a silly old bag and then three days later I’m on Loose Women next to her and she’s being really nice to me. You know, when you’re a journalist you’ve got to write stuff for people to notice it and you say stuff like that. What she said was completely ridiculous. I take one job for the money, because you have to do that when you work in the public eye – it’s a great job as far as I’m concerned. But all that good stuff I’ve done for female confidence etc and I get called a traitor to feminism for taking one job – I just thought what she said was ridiculous so yeah, I am a feminist and it made me feel more determined after that actually.

I love Caitlin Moran, Beyonce – there’s just so many at the moment. Basically, my idols in this industry are women who are nailing it, who have got kids and are continuing to work and don’t look like stick-thin supermodels and are just really good role models for women. I spend half my time in the U.S and all the women on TV over there look the same; they’re all stick thin, with big lollipop heads, and really, really straightened hair. In this country our biggest TV presenter is Davina McCall, who looks like a normal woman. There’s Caroline Flack, who’s got a normal shape, there’s Gemma Cairney with a normal shape, there’s me – none of us are stick thin and I think we should be really proud of that. For young girls in America, their examples aren’t like that. We all have personalities and over here people get on TV for their personalities. The majority of women on UK TV are really clever, funny women who are really good at their jobs and look like normal people. I think that’s a brilliant thing that there are a lot of feminist role models in our media.

Speaking of brilliant women; Liverpool’s produced lots of glamorous, strong female celebrities – who’s your favourite Scouse woman?

Natasha Hamilton from Atomic Kitten. She’s so sweet. I met her at a party the other day and she’s really cute.

Lets see if you remember any Liverpool lingo – Scouse Brows, yes or no?

LOVE THEM. I like big eyebrows. Eyebrows for a while were really thin – so I’m glad big brows are back. Scouse Brows are awesome.

Do you remember what ‘Boss’ means?

That something’s ‘wicked’?

Correct

Scran?

No, pass

Scran is scouse for food – so if you were to have a pan of scouse you’d be having ‘a big fat scran’

Ahhhh. I had Scouse when I was here. I love of that kind of food; Scouse, Hot Pot, Corned Beef hash…..

Geg?

Nope 🙁

Wool?

Pass, again.

Dawn, it’s been an absolute pleasure. You need to do a refresher course on your Scouse lingo but as you love Scouse Brows so much we’ll let you off. And Joey, if you are reading this, give Dawn a Tweet…..

You may also enjoy: Interview: Dawn O’Porter

 

Interview: Dawn O’Porter

Originally published online for OPEN Magazine

Dawn O’Porter is one cool woman. From slimming down to a size zero, to orgies and polygamy, she’s done it all.  She can now also add best-selling novelist to her never-ending list of talents. I caught up with Dawn at the Liverpool signing of her book, Paper Aeroplanes (give it a read, it’s not just for kids) to discuss her drinking days in Liverpool, Scouse Brows and online dating.

Within seconds of meeting Dawn she has complimented me on my mazzy bun, I have a feeling this is going to be a good interview…..

Hi Dawn, it’s not really mentioned much but you actually used to live in Liverpool (Dawn was a student at LIPA) – did you enjoy your time in Merseyside? This is going to be a really awkward interview if you didn’t…..

Haha, I LOVE Liverpool. I had an absolutely great time here. When I left, I didn’t look back because life got so busy in London but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have the most amazing time here. I remember having such a good time but it was so different. The social life was smaller, I think it was the Finch and Furkin on Hope Street. Is The Pilgrim still open? I was there all the time. Zanzibar? I wouldn’t have a clue where to go nowadays.

The Pilgrim’s still around, don’t worry. Now we’ve confirmed that you love Liverpool, you can tell us; what’s your favourite thing about Scousers?

Scousers are so much fun to go out on the piss with! I had a few local friends when I was here. My social life wasn’t massively about my course and I had a little group of friends and we hung with a lot of Scousers. I love Liverpool humour. This guy Joey – Joey, if you’re reading this I don’t know where you are or what happened to you – but he used to make me laugh so much. He was old school Liverpool, he was about 40 odd when I were at college and he would just hang out with us and make us laugh all day. I’ve never forgotten him and he was one of the funniest people in the whole world. Scousers were great for a days drinking – that’s all I really did here if I’m honest!!

Now, your book Paper Aeroplanes is about two teenage girls and is marketed as a young adult read, any plans for literature just for the grown ups?

These two books (Paper Aeroplanes and the sequel Goose which Dawn is currently writing) are young adult but I’d like to keep writing about these two girls, Renee and Flo, all their life. I’ve already mapped out the 3rd book which is them in their 20′s and the 4th will be them in their 30′s. They’ll obviously be aimed at adults because the characters will have grown up. The idea is to keep the audience growing with the book, that would be ideal.

I didn’t write it any differently to how it would have been if the book was for adults; I didn’t think about teenagers when writing it – I thought about female friendship. I don’t have a teenager audience yet, so most of the readers have been 25 plus and the response has been amazing.

You’re returning to our TV screens soon with a show about internet dating – what can we expect?

The nice thing about the TV I’m doing nowadays is that it’s not about me. All my TV during my 20′s was about me going through an experience – that was the younger me. It was exhausting and took quite a lot out of me. The nice thing about this online dating show is that it’s about other people – I’m just doing the research and the investigating. So there’s a survey of 1000 people, all who are online dating, and we’re getting the answers about how to do it and what works and what doesn’t work. Vegetarians and Christians lie more in their profiles than meat eaters and atheists – really fun facts like that.

Any ‘Catfish’ style investigations?

It’s more about looking at the people who sell other people’s profiles. Some kids are under 18 and have joined a dating site then their details have appeared on quite adult sex sites! It’s quite grim because your information isn’t safe, so we’re warning people about that. I love internet dating – I did loads of it when I was younger, I think everyone should do it.

You met your husband online after all…

I did! I met him on Facebook – I’d never heard of him, I didn’t know who he was and he, through a friend who told him I was out in LA, contacted me and it’s the same kind of thing. It’s making that first approach online because you haven’t got time to go the pub every night and meet people so I just think, I had a great time internet dating when I was single and I met the love of my life on the internet so I think it’s a great thing.

Did you enjoy having a nosy at other people’s profiles?

Yeah. We do talk through how to write the right profile as well and it’s amazing how many people get it wrong. Also, how defensive people sound in their profiles. A lot of women say ‘I’M REALLY INDEPENDENT, NOT LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO CHANGE THAT’ – what’s appealing about that? You need to say ‘I’m an independent person but I’m looking for someone to be independent with’; it’s a different way of talking.

What do you think about speed dating? 

Speed dating is odd. I’m not into that at all. I’d be interested to know how many people get together from speed dating. It’s so quick and silly; most of the people you’ll just be like ‘oh God’ and you won’t have a good night. I’m not into that, it’s not realistic.

Liverpool’s produced lots of glamorous celebrities – who’s your favourite famous Scouser?

Natasha Hamilton from Atomic Kitten. She’s so sweet. I met her at a party the other day and she’s really cute.

Lets see if you remember any Liverpool lingo – Scouse Brows, yes or no?

LOVE THEM. I like big eyebrows. Eyebrows for a while were really thin – so I’m glad big brows are back. Scouse Brows are awesome.

Do you remember what ‘Boss’ means?

That something’s ‘wicked’?

Correct. Scran?

No, pass

Scran is scouse for food – so if you were to have a pan of Scouse, you’d be having ‘a big fat scran’

Ahhhh. I had Scouse when I was here. I love of that kind of food; Scouse, Hot Pot, Corned Beef hash…..

Geg?

Nope :(

Wool?

Pass, again.

Dawn, it’s been an absolute pleasure. You need to a refresher course on your Scouse lingo but as you love Scouse Brows so much we’ll let you off. And Joey, if you are reading this, give Dawn a Tweet…..

How To Find Love Online starts Tuesday 18th June, 22:30 on Channel 4.

You may also enjoy: Review & Interview: Dawn O’Porter

 

Review & Interview: Dawn O’Porter’s Paper Aeroplanes

As a big fan of Dawn O’Porter (can you be any other type of fan other than a ‘big fan’?) I was rather excited when I learnt she was writing a book. However, I can’t have been the only one who felt a bit ‘meh’ when it was revealed it was a novel for teenagers. Come on, don’t teenagers get enough? Sure, they’ve got all that angst, but could they let the adults have the cool literature?

However, I needn’t have worried. Waterstones aren’t lying when they class it as a ‘Not just for kids’ read – like the equally enjoyable Haribo sweets, Paper Aeroplanes is for the grown-ups too. I was lucky enough to catch up with Dawn at the Liverpool signing of her debut novel to chat about how the story came about and all things Paper Aeroplanes.

 

This is your first ever fiction book – was writing a novel always an ambition or was it something you just stumbled into?

“It was the thing I wanted to do at 16 but I just fell into TV and found myself writing non fiction and journalism. To write a novel, I always just presumed I’d sit and do it when I retired. But then I got a book deal!! I had a deadline and had to get it done. If I hadn’t got that deal and not seen the novel as an actual job, I’d have probably been writing my book for years and years and years and whether I actually wrote it or not, who knows? I needed that kick up the bum.”

Based loosely on Dawn’s own childhood experiences, Paper Aeroplanes is a gorgeous coming of age tale of two girls, Renee and Flo, who really shouldn’t be friends. Set in 90′s Guernsey, the nostalgic novel tackles all the classic teenage traumas; periods, family woes, boys, friendship and underage drinking. The subject of death also features and knowing that Dawn lost her mother to breast cancer at the age of 6, it makes for at times emotional reading. Dawn manages to balance out sensitive chapters with bursts of humour, which means you’ll be chuckling through the tears if you’re a crier.

The book is based loosely on your childhood – which character do you relate to more, Renee or Flo?

“Renee is obviously more me because her family structure is like mine – I lived with my grandparents until I was ten, she’s living with them at 16 – that’s me projecting what that may have been like. It’s really inspired by my family structure and she’s the same kind of person I am – the kind of person who’d very easily make a mistake and be really, really sorry. It was the friendship I always wished I’d had at 15. So the story didn’t happen and the people aren’t real but it’s inspired about how I felt as a teenager and what I would have liked to have happened I guess.”

Paper Aeroplanes is primarily aimed at teenagers – what was your favourite book growing up?

“‘Oranges are not the only fruit’ By Jeanette Winterson. It’s about a young girl who has a very strict catholic mother and the relationship between them is awful; her mother is very unloving and very unsporting. I didn’t have a mum growing up; I loved the story of a young girl who couldn’t rely on her mum as that’s kind of how I felt. Renee’s mum had died so to kill Flo’s off would have been traumatic so just followed the relationship I’d seen in ‘Oranges are not the only fruit’ (for Flo & her mother) and they’re both in the same situation really.”

Any plans for any literature just for the grown ups?

“I was writing about two women in their 30’s and then I got a call from a Young Adult publisher asking if I’d like to write for them. I’d never considered writing for kids before, I’m not very child friendly. The story I was writing worked the same if they were 15 or 30 so I just changed the ages!

I didn’t write it any different to how it would have been for adults, I didn’t think about teenagers when writing it – I thought about female friendship. I don’t have a young audience yet, so most of the readers have been 25 plus and the response has been amazing.

These two books are young adult but I’d like to keep writing about these two girls all their life. I’ve already kind of mapped out the 3rd book which is them in their 20’s and the 4th which is them in their 30’s. They’ll obviously be aimed at adults because the characters will have grown up. The idea is to keep the audience growing with the book that would be ideal.”

It’s impossible to read Paper Aeroplanes as a tale of intense female friendship and not think back to your teenage years and reminisce. Caroline Flack sums it up perfectly, with her quote on the back of the book; “Anyone who has ever been a teenage girl will love this book.” I could not agree more.

You might also enjoy: Interview: Dawn O’Porter

 

Review & Interview: Hairspray starring Marcus Collins

You can’t stop the motion of the ocean, and you certainly can’t stop yourself smiling the whole way through the wonderful touring production of Hairspray, which rolled into Liverpool last night.

Set in 1962, Hairspray is jam-packed with big hair, big hearts and even bigger laughs. Baltimore’s larger than life Tracey Turnblad, wonderfully performed by newcomer Freya Sutton, is transformed from outsider to overnight teen sensation after bagging a spot on local TV programme, The Corny Collins Show.  Hairspray is an homage to the swinging 60’s, with colourful costumes and toe tapping music, but it also tackles the darker issues of race and segregation throughout the era, and a young girl’s journey to be accepted, regardless of her size.

Marcus Collins starring as Seaweed

Marcus Collins starring as Seaweed

Many of the big laughs come from the loveable Penny Pingleton’s (Lauren Hood) naivety and her ditzy quips. As Tracey’s loyal, supporting sidekick, Hood’s comic timing ensured the stalls were filled with laughter.

Although each individual character gives pitch perfect vocal performances, Motormouth Maybelle’s (Sandra Marvin) rendition of Big, Blonde & Beautiful actually warranted a standing ovation throughout the song, so mesmerized were the audience of Marvin hitting some outrageously high notes.

Without question though, the star of the show is Seaweed, played by Liverpool’s very own Marcus Collins, who received a warm welcome upon his return to his home city. Though trained in musical theatre, Hairspray is Marcus’s theatrical debut and he explained how Seaweed was a role he just couldn’t say no to;Obviously I’ve been a hairdresser, so you could say that helped the show appeal to me on a level! Hairspray is one of my favourite productions and there was no way I could turn it down, the role was perfect for me. Seaweed is really fun to play; he’s a cool kid, a trend setter and always gets a good reaction from the audience”.

Speaking prior to the opening night of the production, Marcus also revealed how excited he was to bring the tour to Merseyside; I cannot wait to get back to the city – I think 3/4 of the audience will be my family and friends and I’m excited to show them what I’ve been working on.” With a raucous response to Collins’ exceptional portrayal of Seaweed, it was evident that Liverpool extremely impressed with just what he’d been working on.

There’s no doubt about it, Hairspray is big, bold and bursting with talented stars – a musical guaranteed to have you singing and dancing along in your seat.

Verdict: **** Excellent

Liverpool Empire Theatre

Writers: Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan

Music and Lyrics: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman Director: Jack O’Brien

Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell

Cast: Mark Benton, Lucy Benjamin, Marcus Collins, Freya Sutton, Sandra Marvin

Running time: 150 minutes (Including interval)

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Interview: Kerry Katona

Kerry Katona is holding-out for a massive pay-out from the News of the World, she has disclosed.

Lawyers for Mother-of-four Kerry, 32, are fighting a legal battle with News International after she discovered that she was a victim of phone hacking.

She is blaming the newspaper for STOPPING her getting clean and causing her to fall out with friends and family.

The former Atomic Kitten star Kerry is currently promoting her second autobiography I’m Still Standing, she said: “The News of The World play a big part in my book.

“A lot of people call me a publicity whore but I have been the victim of phone hacking and I am currently in a big legal battle with them right now.

“Every time I wanted to get myself clean or start a new chapter the News Of The World would leak a story that had come from hacking my phone

“I was falling out with friends and family who I thought had sold stories on me.”

“I’m honestly convinced to this day the the News of The World had a front page ready to be printed upon my death – I was on the cover of that newspaper every weekend.”

Kerry has spent over 12 years in the media spotlight, going through battles with drugs and alcohol and very public break-ups and divorces.

Speaking at a book signing in Liverpool, she called the writing process of her new book “dreadful” and “one of the hardest things to do in life”.

She added: “I found it dreadful to write if I’m honest.

Kerry was in Liverpool to sign copies of her latest book.

Kerry was in Liverpool to sign copies of her latest book.

“I think one of the hardest things to do in life is to look at your flaws and come to terms to the fact it’s no ones fault but your own.”

“The book goes through divorce, bankruptcy, mental health issues, custody battles – just one of those issues alone in life is so draining so to go through several all at once is hard.

“I’ve put all that to rest by doing this book and hopefully when people do read it they can maybe take something away, perhaps not what to do whilst growing up!”

Kerry is set to reunite with Liverpool-based girl band Atomic Kitten and said she feels like she has come “full circle”.

The Warrington-born mum looked slim and healthy as she signed copies of her book, and gushed about the reunion.

She said: “It’s great to be in Merseyside, Liverpool’s the home of the Kittens and I used to live here so it’s always good be back.

“I’m excited to reform with the girls, I feel like I’ve done full circle. At the moment we’ve done a photo shoot and we start filming in January – that’s all I know.”

Queen of the Jungle Kerry also talked with fondness over her time on I’m A Celebrity… and her desire to return to the show.

“I would absolutely love to go back in, I really think they should a ‘Best of..’ version where all the Kings and Queens go back in”, she said.

Buy Kerry Katona: Still Standing here.