The editors' blog


    ~ Posted by Robert Butler, July 1st 2014

    The man in front of me, on the way in to see "Great Britain"—Richard Bean's raucous new satire about newspapers and phone-hacking—was the playwright Howard Brenton. In the mid-80s he had co-written (with David Hare) the defiant Fleet Street satire "Pravda". Following behind us was Tom Stoppard, who in the late-70s had written his own astute account of the fourth estate, "Night and Day". Last night's first night was also notable for the number of seats taken by people with a professional interest in the play. A few rows in front sat Nick Davies, the Guardian reporter who had done more than anyone else to expose phone-hacking.

    read more » National TheatrenewspapersPOLITICSRobert ButlerTheatre

    ~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, June 25th 2014

    Our pick of six new songs that you should have on your iPod. Hear them on our player below, or find the playlist on Spotify by searching for IntLifeMag. All songs available at iTunes.

    Metronomy: The Upsetter
    Sparkling electro-pop, with a lyric that's a love letter to 1992.

    Beck: Heart Is a Drum
    The album "Morning Phase" is a bit one-paced, but this mellow piano chugger is a gem.

    Hurray for the Riff Raff: Good Time Blues
    Meet Alynda Lee Segarra, the Latina Emmylou Harris.

    Simone Felice: Running Through My Head
    As ballads go, this is an epic.

    Robert Ellis: Chemical Plant
    Country music without the rhinestones.

    Todd Terje feat. Bryan Ferry: Johnny and Mary
    Robert Palmer with a sinuous twist.

    read more » intelligent tunesLifestyleMusicRockTim de Lisle

    ~ Posted by Rosie Blau, June 23rd 2014

    Sometimes being an editor involves coming up with grand thoughts and wild ideas. Much of the time, though, we are thinking about commas, headlines and other matters that, if we get them right, the reader barely notices. Often it’s the smallest of these that provoke the greatest debate in the office.

    It was a pronoun that whipped up a storm as the July/August issue of Intelligent Life went to press. In every edition we run a feature called “The Big Question”, in which we put a poser to six writers. This time the question was about how many children to have. But when it came to putting that question on the page, we had a hard time agreeing precisely how to phrase it: “How many children should you have?”, or “How many children should we have?”

    read more » debateRosie BlauThe Big Question

    ~ Posted by Charlie McCann, June 20th 2014

    Jimi Hendrix couldn't read music. Neither could John Lennon. And neither can Nick Zinner. He's the guitarist for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a rock band from New York city, whose abrasive squall of sound belies the trio's size. But three years ago Zinner took on an improbable project when he decided to compose a symphony. "41 Strings" has its British premiere tonight.

    When I spoke to Zinner, in London this week, he told me he thought that not being able to read music was, at least for him, an asset. “There’s something about writing proper sheet music—I worry it might trigger the hyper-analytic part of my brain that I’m constantly trying to turn off. I feel like I have a little more freedom because I don’t know the rules.”

    read more » Charlie McCannclassicalfestivalMusicRock

    ~ Posted by Charlie McCann, June 18th 2014 

    When the comedy group The Lonely Island released a music video last month lampooning EDM, electronic dance music, it notched up 8m views. The name of their spoof DJ was Davvincii—a nod to David Guetta and Avicii, two champions of the genre. As played by Andy Samberg, Davvincii pretends to look busy fiddling with the dials on his mixing console while he secretly plays a computer game, draws a self-portrait, even fries an egg. The Lonely Island writers may have been inspired by a similar video making the rounds in April. “What DJs do these days” is a short clip of DJs Steve Aoki, Sander van Doorn and Laidback Luke playing a show in Miami. Speech bubbles have been added: “I’ll just touch this knob for no particular reason”; “Hands in the air”; “Hey bros, don’t mind me, I am just doing stuff”. 

    But if only those who think DJing is nothing more than pushing the “play” button had seen the headline act at Meltdown—the festival curated by James Lavelle and hosted by the Southbank Centre. It was a masterclass in turntablism. On Saturday night DJ Shadow presided over the decks at Area, a nightclub in Vauxhall. A fusillade of bass tones pummelled the packed room as DJ Shadow took charge of three turntables, two mixers, and an electronic drum kit—enough to keep him busy for 90 minutes. "There’s no laptop up here,” he said. The crowd roared.

    read more » Charlie McCannFestivalsMusic

    ~ Posted by Simon Willis, June 17th 2014

    Bob Mazzer’s photographs of life on the London Underground—on show at the Howard Griffin Gallery in Shoreditch—have something of the night about them. He began taking the pictures in the 1970s, when he was working as a porn-theatre projectionist in King’s Cross. Travelling back and forth from work with his camera, he’d revel in nocturnal exhibitionism and wild serendipity. There’s a clown in a pink wig carrying a trumpet and a bottle of beer, a woman in leopard print juggling in a tunnel, a guy mooning at the camera, his arse resting against a fellow traveller’s shiny black loafer. He shot brawlers and buskers, lovers and drunks, drifters and city gents, the low life and the high. But the best of his photographs—the funniest, the saddest, those that feel most intimate and familiar—are about what happens when those ingredients become a cocktail.

    read more » LondonPhotographySimon Willis

    ~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, June 12th 2014

    In Anthony Lane’s introduction to his anthology of New Yorker film reviews, “Nobody’s Perfect”, he sets out five rules for prospective movie critics. Rule One: “Never read the publicity material.” He’s talking about the sheaves of photocopied notes which are handed to reviewers at press screenings. Notoriously bland, these notes tend to declare that everyone on the production adored everyone else, and that the making of the film was a joy from start to finish. Even if the director was sacked and the stars threw their skinny lattes at each other, the discord is never, ever mentioned.

    All of which explains my delight at reading the press bumf for Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s new film, “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet”. There is an interview with Jeunet in it, and while his most famous film, “Amelie”, might suggest that he’s all sweetness and light, he turns out to have a wonderfully bracing French frankness when he’s venting his frustrations.

    read more » FilmsmoviesNicholas BarberPublicity

    ~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, 

June 11th 2014

    Bridging art forms, for many artists, is a bridge too far. The odd pop star, like Damon Albarn, may be brave enough to weave his songs into an opera; a tenor, given a fair wind or a World Cup, may manage a hit single; but it’s a rare bird who flits easily between pop, opera and theatre. Our cover star, Es Devlin, has mastered set design in all three art forms, and raised standards in each one. I first came across her work in the less than promising setting of Coventry City football club, where the reunited Take That were playing on a dank evening in 2008. It was business, not pleasure, until I saw Devlin’s designs. A life-size chainmail elephant was soon advancing towards the centre circle, with four middle-aged boy-band members perched on top, like maharajahs. A drab grey stadium was transformed into a living, breathing children’s book, full of colour and wonder. Devlin had spotted that Take That’s fans, now in their 20s, had fallen for them not as hormonal teenyboppers, but as eight- or nine-year-olds. The designs spoke to the child inside the fan.

    read more » DesignFrom the editorIntelligent LifeTim de Lisle

    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, June 9th 2014

    Ever since Pope Gregory the Great defined them in the sixth century, the seven deadly sins have shaped our moral landscape. To err is human, and most foibles are forgivable. But some sins, especially when taken to their limits, are worse than others, damaging not just individuals but the fabric of society, too. For our last Big Question, we asked seven writers to pick the deadliest sin today. We then invited readers to vote in our online poll.

    read more » IDEASintelligenceLucy FarmerThe Big Question

    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, June 9th 2014

    In our recent cover story, Rosie Blau examined the effect light has on our health. The eye perceives three main colours in light—red, green and blue. Morning light has the highest concentration of blue, which tells the brain to be alert and regulates our body clock, helping us to sleep soundly and function well. With this in mind, I dragged my bleary-eyed self to an early-morning yoga class on the 68th floor of The Shard.

    I’m used to practising yoga in a fluoro-lit, often musty, studio at my local gym in south-west London. There are no windows. Achieving a state of Zen can be a challenge there, but even so, I rave to my friends about the benefits of yoga—increased flexibility and strength, improved circulation, healthier joints and organs, a calmer nervous system, boosted immunity… The prospect of doing downward-facing dogs 800-feet up, surrounded by sky, was an enticing one.

    read more » healthLondonLucy FarmerSCIENCESPORT