The editors' blog


    ~ Posted by Melanie Grant, July 11th 2014During the 1970s a couple of geeky geologists, Warren Atkinson (above) and Frank Hughes, spent seven years looking for diamonds in the ruthless heat of north-western Australia. Then, on October 2nd 1979, in a dry river creek in East Kimberley, they found some rough pink diamonds that were 1.6 billion years old. Thirty-five years on, Argyle Diamond mine is responsible for 90% of the world’s pink diamonds. 

    read more » AustraliajewelleryMelanie GrantSHOPPING

    ~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, July 9th 2014

    Being a film journalist, I hardly ever go to the cinema. That is, I go to the cinema all the time, but only for press screenings, which means I’m always surrounded by fellow critics with takeaway coffees, rather than paying customers with popcorn. This week, though, I had to catch up with a film I’d missed, “22 Jump Street” (below), so I handed over actual money in an actual cinema for the first time in more than a decade. I was quite excited. For once, I was going to descend from my ivory tower and savour the authentic movie-going experience once again.

    read more » CriticismFilmsmoviesNicholas Barber

    Es Devlin from IntelligentLife on Vimeo.

    She is the most sought-after set designer in opera. And theatre. And rock, pop, hip-hop... Oh, and she also does the Olympics. For our cover story, Matthew Sweet went backstage with Es Devlin. Here, he introduces her work—from Take That's "Progress" tour to Berlioz's "Les Troyens".

    read more » OperaRockSimon WillisTheatreVideo

    ~ Posted by Simon Willis, July 3rd 2014

    In the March/April 2014 issue of Intelligent Life, Bryan Appleyard wrote about Tri-X, the black-and-white film beloved of many of the greatest photographers, which has its 60th birthday this year. Tri-X gave photographers two things: rich grainy visuals and ease of use. It’s the film on which Don McCullin captured his famous Vietnam soldier with the 1000-yard stare, Sheila Rock her London punks and Anton Corbijn his moody, grizzled portraits of Tom Waits. “Grain is life”, Corbijn told Appleyard. What’s more, “if your exposure was slightly wrong,” Appleyard wrote, “you could still get a decent shot”. It was a film that suited “the casual, go anywhere, do anything mood of the Sixties”.

    read more » ExhibitionsPhotographySimon WillisTHE SIXTIES

    ~ Posted by Robert Butler, July 3rd 2014

    In a recent online Q&A, David Hare, Britain's leading state-of-the-nation playwright, was asked "where did it all begin to unravel?" "The key event was the Miners' Strike," he replied, "and to my great shame I didn't realise it at the time." Thirty years on, a gripping new play at London's Hampstead Theatre dramatises the bitter events of 1984-85. "Wonderland" isn't the mature reflection of someone who lived through the period. It is by the daughter of a miner who did.

    read more » BritainPOLITICSTheatre

    ~ 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