Get your glad rags on for White Mink: Black Cotton, the opening night of the Fringe, where electro swing meets speakeasy jazz
There are revivals a-plenty these days. Some say it’s due to a paucity of original ideas, some say it’s a recognition of some of the fantastic musical and fashion movements of yesteryear. Whatever your view, Nick Hollywood, head honcho of the Brighton-based Freshly Squeezed label, has struck gold with the re-telling of the ’20s and ’30s, where everything was in black and white (or so pictures and film tell us!); the men were dapper, and the girls were flapper. The era of modern communication was really just beginning: film, radio and music were starting to be distributed to wider audiences via recent inventions such as celluloid, telephones and gramophones. Exciting times indeed, and it’s being re-lived via Nick’s White Mink: Black Cotton musical project, which marries modern day electro swing with old school speakeasy jazz.
“This is the first time ever these electro swing acts have been brought together,” says says Nick, co-founder and resident DJ at the hugely influential Club Montepulciano, the long-running club that pioneered the lounge, cabaret and proto-burlesque scenes back in the ’90s.
“It really is a who’s who of the new scene in the UK. We will be previewing what we will be doing at Glastonbury, Big Chill and Bestival later this year, where other European acts will join us like Caravan Palace, Kormac and Parov Stelar. Brighton will get the first taste.
“Gramophondzie has taken electro-swing mainstream and onto the BBC Radio One playlist but there has been an underground scene evolving around this music for a couple of years now.”
Pick of the week in The Guardian and Time Out, White Mink: Black Cotton is a brilliant amalgamation of classic jazz and swing with tracks by legends such as Woody Herman, Benny Goodman and Django Reinhardt, mixed in with contemporary electro swing tunes that incorporate the original frenetic swing and rhythms of the inter-war years with modern beats and contemporary production values.
“We have described what we do as ‘the music of the first great depression meeting the technology of the second’,” explains Nick. “At the live event, for example, we will have everything from DJ El Nino playing vintage 78s on actual 78rpm decks with HMV-type horns to high-tech VJ shows. But of course the laptop mixing will be with images made up of pre-sound era black and white footage. Some of which is surprisingly raunchy!”
Nick Hollywood will be found donning his finest vintage suit at the grand opening of Freerange.
“The whole thing is sexy, fresh, fun, glamorous
and hugely stylish. The tongue in cheek but slightly decadent, even seedy, glamour seems perfectly suited to our edge-of-Britain mentality.”
Friday 30 April, Freerange. Part of the Brighton Festival Fringe, www.brightonfestivalfringe.org.uk