I'm Mar. I'm from Vancouver originally. I moved to London 7 years ago. Then to Berlin and now I live in Toronto. I DJ dressed up like Garth in Waynes Girls.
I play bass, I book tours for bands in Europe, I like swimming, I love music and I make radio.
I'm also a huge dork.
This blog / podcast is named after the Wesley Willis quote "Rock over London, rock on Chicago."
When I first bought a URL, Rock Over London was taken so the old podcasts are called Rock On London. Confusing
for people and it means a lot of out of date links. Here's an interview I did in 2001 with Wesley (RIP):
Wesley Willis Interview by rockoverlondon
The Great Escape is a new music festival and conference. In it’s 7th year, the Brighton based festival is noted as being the UK’s version of SXSW, with 350 bands in 30 venues across the city.
Showcase type festivals, like the Great Escape, have been on the rise over the past few years, attracting 3000 delegates from all over the world. I wandered around drinking and trying to see as many bands as possible. Here are my highlights:
My current favourite duo from Canada. Cousins are from Halifax (Nova Scotia) and started out as a 4 piece but have evolved in line up move arounds into a 2 piece of drums (Leigh Dotey) and guitar (Aaron Mangle). I first saw them in a vintage clothing shop last September in Montreal and every show has just gotten better. I showed up at the Blind Tiger to a one in one out queue and the room was boiling. Drummer Leigh’s face turned purple. I felt for her. A stage hand turned on a fan. She said that was one of the happiest moments of her life. Cousins have a unique blend of stop start garage rock that will get left in your head for days. I wake up with their songs buzzing around my brain. Live they plummet through each song not caring how sweaty or purple their faces have gotten. It’s well worth checking out.
Second duo on my list. Heard these guys were only 19? I know at least for a fact they are brothers from around the Sheffield area. Points for being young and points for being Yorkshire (my Dad was born in Sheffield, it’s just a thing for me). They played the giant room that is the Corn Exchange sandwiched between Canadian superstar Mac DeMarco and Florida heart throbs Merchandise. I love bands that are only 2 instruments but can fill the entire hall with a wall of sound. Drenge aren’t doing anything new, guitar & drums, bluesy rock with kick ass guitar riffs and bashing drums but they do it well and catchy. Every generation needs their own version of the tried and true rock heroes.
I first heard Melody’s Echo Chamber while sat eating tacos in a bar in Toronto. I was instantly drawn to the band and asked the barmaid (who’s ipod was on shuffle) what we were listening to. I had the name written down as a band to check out since then. And now I know why Parisian songstress Melody Prochet sounds so enchanting, her record was produced by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. No wonder the music is so brilliant. I feel like Tame Impala is one of those bands who can do no wrong. Live it would have been better suited to a smaller venue than the Corn Exchange but it was still enchanting and lovely, just needed a smaller Chamber to really draw people in.
OK – so not a new band. But watching 1100 people scream along to Golden Skans with their hands in the air was a festival highlight. The Great Escape is all about new up and coming bands but throwing in a band with some nostalgia and putting them on at 12:30AM when everyone’s been drinking for at least 6 hours is pure genius (thanks to festival programmer Adam Ryan). I had a massive grin on my face, singing along to Magick with all the other Brits. I had taken 4 Germans to the gig though who stood motionless arms folded watching the craziness unfold around them. I asked them “Are you having fun?” as I bounced around them in circles. I guess they only knew the one song (Golden Skans) in Germany. I think every festival should have at least one nostalgia band for everyone to get drunk and sing along too. This was perfect.
This show was crazy to get into. Chvrches were headlining and I had already seen them previously as one of the hyped band’s of CMW (Canadian Music Week). When we rocked up to Digital there was at least a 200 person queue outside, luckily for me I was with someone who could get us in a little faster. It was a busy room and being short and standing at the back I could make out the video visuals and that’s about it. I always find it weird watching bands as a short person where all I can really experience is the music. I stood on a step at the end of the set and saw Mø squirming and shaking about. The music is typical of the trendy female electronic singer songwriter stuff ala Grimes but I’d say a little less quirky than Grimes with a more accessible voice. If you like that stuff Mø is for you.
I’ve lived in Toronto for 4 weeks now and so far I’ve tried out 4 pools.
It’s summer time now so the outdoor pools are slowly opening across the city and guess what!? In this town they’re FREE. I am so happy about this, I’m going to swim every other day all summer long. I don’t think Torontonians know how good they’ve got it!
My reviews so far…
Alexandra Park Pool (aka Scadding Court) is the largest outdoor pool I’ve been to so far. It’s situated at Dundas and Bathurst at the north end of Alexandra Park.
PROs: Longest pool I’ve been to in Toronto and has a deep end that I can actually not stand up in properly.
CONs: It’s generally got kids in it and families, there are no lanes.
Alex Duff (aka Christie Pitts Pool) is crazy. It’s 3 pools in one! A splashy kids wadding pool, a normal one and a dive pool with a slide! It’s also up on the hill which wasn’t very good when I went there because it was super windy and kind of cold.
PROs: It’s got a slide !!!
CONs: It’s busy and the pool is super shallow.
Stanley Park Pool
Yes, it has the same name as the big and famous park in Vancouver but it is nothing like the Second Beach pool in Stanley Park of Vancouver. This pool is hidden away under some trees just off King Street West on a quiet street. I got there and was excited to see I was the only patron in the entire pool and building!! Wowee a pool all to myself! And then I realised why, the water is absolutely FREEZING. They don’t heat this pool at all and it’s under trees so it’s mostly shaded and it was so so so cold. I actually could barely do front crawl because it hurt my face too much to put it in the water.
PROs: Basically a private pool except for the lifeguards.
July 1st is Canada Day. It’s a day Canadians don’t work, Canadians in London flock to Trafalgar square and a lot of beer is consumed. Last year I had the pleasure of picking 5 Canadian songs to help Spoonfed help celebrate Canada Day and it was dead hard to pick just 5 so I asked if I could do it again this year. I’d like to do it annually because our big/little country has so much varied music I just want to share it with the world. So here’s my picks for essential Canadian listening to celebrate Canada Day 2012.
Platinum Blonde - Doesn’t Really Matter
When describing Platinum Blonde to non-Canadians I always say “Canada’s Duran Duran” but the group has more to them then big feathered hair, amazing bass lines and 80s fashion. They actually started out as a Police tribute band and then somehow made a 6-song EP and signed to CBS Records Canada and “Doesn’t Really Matter” was their first single in 1983 and it became the fastest selling debut by a Canadian artist in the label’s history at the time, peaking at #39 on the Canadian album charts (according to wikipedia). They released 3 albums in the 80s and were HUGE in Canada with teenage girls screaming for singer Mark Holmes (who is in fact originally from Mansfield, England). Then they disappeared til the late 90s/early 2000s when they returned. This is when I first met Mark Holmes on a 2002 Greatest Hits tour across Canada – I got to interview him and he was decked out in Fred Perry, skinny trousers, bowling shoes and had a full on mod hair cut. He had transformed from the blonde 80s pop star and was obsessed with mods. He even ran a night called the Mod Club in Toronto (which I ended up being a regular at and got to hang with him quite a bit – I’m still Facebook friends with him haha) and now owns a venue called the Mod Club Theatre and is still DJing and running nights there to the present day. The band has recorded a new album and is still currently touring. Oh and Crystal Castles covered their song “Not in Love” with Robert Smith a couple years back but I think only Canadians know that it’s a cover.
The Ugly Ducklings - Gaslight
I always say Canada has a rich 60s rock n roll history just not too many people have heard of our bands. Well here’s a great example of another great Canadian 60s number. This is one of my favourite garage rock songs of all time. The passion in Dave Bingham’s voice still makes me emotional every time I hear it. I just start screaming “Gaaaasss light” along whenever it comes on the stereo. The Ugly Ducklings were active in the mid-60s and hailed from Toronto. Gaslight was their one and only Top 40 hit.
Slow - Have Not Been The Same
If you read the description blurb of this video on youtube it credits Vancouver’s Slow for inventing grunge. I don’t know how true that is but it’s highly possible. I completely believe the story that they wore plaid before anyone in Seattle as this video is from 1986 and they look pretty grunge. The band was also surrounded by controversy that year as they were the first band to play the local stage at Expo 86 and they stripped down and mooned the crowd during their set. The Expo officials cut the power while they were on stage, the police detained them and there was a mini protest outside a TV station. Getting worried Expo officials decided to cancel the rest of the local band programming. This story has gone down as legend in the Vancouver music scene. I was only 5 at Expo 86 but the first time I met lead singer Thomas Anselmi I asked him about it. Anselmi also went to the same high school as me (10 years before me of course) and is probably the second most famous person from my school after Joshua Jackson (Mighty Ducks / Dawson’s Creek). That’s how small Vancouver is !
Snow - Informer
I know this isn’t a “cool” choice but this is an essential song to anyone who grew up in the 90s. Some of my earliest memories of school is hanging round the basket ball courts watching the “cool kids” playing basket ball with this blasting from a ghetto blaster on repeat. You can’t deny it’s catchy and it was huge worldwide not just in Canada. And how many other countries can boast a worldwide number 1 selling white reggae artist? Probably none. It’s just another example of Canada’s multiculturalism actually working (insert patriotic comment here).
Loverboy - Working For the Weekend
This is one of my karaoke classics (I love singing the chorus! “Let’s gooooo!”). Another huge 80s stadium band but Loverboy had huge hits in America selling millions of albums worldwide. This is probably their most popular song. But this video is ridiculous – check out the lip syncing, it’s terrible! And those red leather trousers. Mmmm. Hee hee. I was at a gig once and my friend recognised the drummer from Loverboy and me being slightly tipsy decided to go up to him and say “hey ! Are you the drummer from Loverboy?” He was so stoked I recognised him he then proceeded to flirt with me. That was pretty funny – he must have thought I was a mega fan. Oh also Loverboy is from Alberta but moved to Vancouver and became huge, not unlike another terrible Canadian band which starts with the letter “N” and ends with “back”. Please stop moving from Alberta to Vancouver. Just stay there and remain anonymous for the greater good.
I’ve been on holiday for the past 2 weeks with visitors. Done sooooooo much touristy stuff in Berlin it’s been crazy.
First off was Teufelsberg the abandoned American spy station on top of a man made mountain in Grunewald Forest in West Berlin. I read a lot about it before I went. Turns out it was an old Nazi Military training academy but was so well built when the war was over the allies tried to blow it up and couldn’t destroy it so they took the ruble from all the bombings and broken buildings from the streets of Berlin and piled it on top fo the training facility, making a mountain which now has trees and lots of nature growing on it. During the Cold War the Americans built a listening post on top of the mountain to try and spy / listen in on the Soviets. After the wall came down it was abandoned and is now a place for urban exploration and amateur photographers. It’s well worth a visit, though you have to crawl through a hole in the fence and it is technically “trespassing” it’s really amazing and has the best views of Berlin that I have seen.
You learn something new everyday and today I learned that while the commonwealth, USA and probably other parts of the world are silent at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month Germans are shouting “WOOOO !” in Kölln and having a big party, as this time / date marks the beginning of carnival.
Some people in my office earlier today were dressed in fancy dress to mark the occasion. See the above Flamingo!
My cousin asked if I got a poppy, um, this Germany, they’re never heard of Remembrance Day I answered.
3 Weeks in to life in Berlin and wow there’s a lot to get used too.
I love how friendly everyone is, everything is a lot closer, the bike lanes, even the rain is less intense than British rain (I can cycle through it!), the yogurt is MUCH better too.
But I miss sooo many things I thought I wouldn’t like quorn and fake meat products (the ones here are pretty bad), cheese (hallumi and cheddar can’t find it anywhere), my bike helmet, lifts (elevators), diet coke, (never thought I would say this but) London booze prices, sainsburys and most importantly my friends and their bands.
Here’s some London friends of mine who’ve just released via soundcloud an EP of songs. The lovely French Kissing boys of Newington Green. You’ll find them hanging around most pubs from Stokey down to Shoreditch.
Now all we need to do is bring them over to Berlin armed with cheese and quorn products to give out, their show would be a sell out for sure! Go have a dance for me to French Kissing’s fuzzy guitar drenched rock n roll.