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Over the summer, I attended two concerts with my girlfriend: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Blenheim Palace in June and Lana Del Rey at the O2 Brixton Academy in July. Across the course of both concerts, we took one photo between us – a close-up shot of Del Rey as she ventured towards the right side of the front of the stage where we stood. I remember both nights vividly. What I also remember vividly is the blinding wave of light, as hundreds of smartphones shone up at the pop star unflinchingly throughout the evening. It made me question how our digestion of real life and experience has become distorted by technology and the competitive nature of social media, no doubt catalysed by the onset of the Snapchat ‘story’. Camera phones are no longer a portal to memories but a barrier.
Secondly, I sometimes question why people even get their camera phones out in the first place. As the Blenheim Palace concert drew to a close, the night erupted into a booming salvo of fireworks as the Star Wars theme sound tracked a display of July 4th proportions. I, like the majority of the audience, was wowed by the fireworks but at the same time I’ve seen fireworks dozens of times. It wasn’t an occasion that was worthy of a video recording. The woman in front of me clearly felt differently – as she did on four or five occasions during the evening, updating her ‘story’ as the night progressed. I’ve always been against video recording at events, but documenting something so everyday as a firework display is not enhancing your experience, it’s sabotaging it. And more often than not, with your hands held high, documenting the same video as the 20 people either side of you and the other 200 people in the room, you’ll probably be ruining the view for the unfortunate person behind you.
“To exist in the moment without technological assistance is an experience of its own and I think that’s something many of us forget sometimes.”
But I’m not completely averse to documentation; sometimes what’s going on in front of you really is worth seeing again and again. It’s also nice to have that image frozen in time, the proof that says I was there when this or that happened. But I certainly feel that we live in an age where the belief is that the memory will only be captured if it’s done via a smartphone or camera. If an iPhone or camera is the means by which we lock in a memory, are we even truly creating that memory or are we actually blocking that process of remembrance from happening in our minds?
To exist in the moment without technological assistance is an experience of its own and I think that’s something many of us forget sometimes. It is great to have photos and videos for our own nostalgic enjoyment or for just pure smugness in the presence of friends and family. But for me, right now technology is not a helpful tool in the construction of memory. It hinders the feel of memory and how our senses grasp the enormity of something truly unforgettable happening. On top of that, the notion of filming everything and anything you experience ultimately blurs the lines between the great and the mundane. So next time you’re in the midst of something truly remarkable, leave your phone in your pocket and let the memories make themselves.
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Pop is definitely having a female-dominated moment. Right now, the charts are adorned by a fierce crop of exciting new female artists such as Dua Lipa, Camila Cabello and Little Mix. The likes of Rita Ora, Katy Perry and Sia have enjoyed lengthy bouts of success and a new album from Taylor Swift looks set to test even the most impressive of streaming records. As we speak, Beyonce is probably readying another pop culture shattering record.
Zara Larsson can certainly consider herself a prominent figure in this period of significant female artistic output. With 5 no.1 singles and 2 no.1 albums in her native Sweden, a number of top 10 singles in the UK, including her collaboration with Clean Bandit that went to no.1, Larsson has quickly cemented herself as a popular artist across Europe and the world.
Right now, Larsson is well underway with her first UK tour which includes a stop at Portsmouth’s very own Guildhall on October 27th. And to celebrate that, Larsson took some time out of her busy schedule to chat about the issues closest to her heart, the new musicians that excite her the most and her obsession with Beyonce.
What’s the coolest thing about Sweden?
“To me, it’s just my home. It’s where I grew up. I love the fact that you guys get four seasons and we just get fucking snow! I love that we’re very liberal and very accepting in general. We’re very progressive with equality.”
Who are the artists that have influenced your artistic style the most?
“Beyonce and Rihanna in particular.”
What one cause is closest to your heart?
Because I identify as a woman, and because people treat me as a woman, I feel that issues regarding women are very close to my heart. But because I’m a feminist and I take a lot of pride in being a feminist, I try to be really involved in issues regarding LGBTQ, people of colour and people with disabilities. It’s not only about equality between men and women, there’s a whole other spectrum that cannot be forgotten. There’s so many issues and topics and problems right now, it’s like, should we stop rape first? Or should we stop the discrimination of black people or any other people of colour? Should we stop the criminalisation of gay people in parts of the world? I don’t know what’s more important, I think just being a feminist and wanting equality for everyone is the way forward. Trying to involve a feminist perspective and way of thinking is what I want to do. It’s so hard for me to pick one topic to work on. But women’s health and women’s issues are close to my heart.”
Out of all the places you have visited on tour, which is your favourite?
“I loved Paris, I loved Amsterdam. I’ve never been touring in the UK which is so weird. I’ve only done festivals so I can’t wait for the headlining tour to create a lot of new memories. We’re going to Iceland which I’m really excited about but just the UK tour in general I’m really excited for. Also, I just love to be on the bus with my band mates and my dancers and it’s a great vibe. So the whole experience is really fun for me.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
“Probably ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ or ‘No One’ by Alicia Keys.”
What are you listening to at the moment that’s really grabbing your attention?
I listen to a lot to playlists and I listen to a lot of rap, but I wish that a lot of these rappers didn’t get as much attention. There’s so many out there like Kodak Black and XXXTentacion and artists like that, I mean, why are Spotify promoting them? XXXTentacion beat up his pregnant girlfriend and Kodak Black was in jail for rape. Why are they supporting this? It doesn’t make sense to me. But other than that I like Post Malone’s new songs, I love Kehlani. She definitely deserves more attention, she’s incredible, I love her. I love the new girls in pop right now too, like Camila Cabello, Dua Lipa, Anne-Marie. There’s so many cool girls that are coming up, obviously Dua Lipa already has a number one but I wish them all continued success.
What three things can you not live without when you’re on tour?
A good pillow, my noise cancelling headphones and a lot of snacks. I love popcorn. We’re not really crazy when we’re on tour. We’re super chill, like the most crazy thing we’ll do is leave the candy wrappers on the floor. We’re not a rock star crew at all.
Who are your ultimate male and female celebrity crushes?
Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyonce.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you want to do for a job instead?
Probably still something in entertainment. Maybe go into acting, I would like to do that. I’m super picky with movies so I wouldn’t be on some corny shit. My boyfriend, he hasn’t seen a single good movie in his life so we’re currently going through all the good movies. We just saw The Shawshank Redemption, Pretty Woman and I was like, what! You haven’t seen those? So something like a classic of course, and something entertaining and creative. If not that and I had to have a 9-5 job, I’d like to be a teacher because I just know how much my teacher helped me through life and how he made the bonds in my class so strong. My classmates are my family and I feel like my teacher did that. He was so good at bringing us together and a good teacher can make such a difference.
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