Insta-Influencer: Dropscotch

Instagram’s a funny old thing. It’s the social platform I use most for my blog, but sometimes it can be a bit vacuous.

Yet, if you search hard enough and bypass the #happyvibess, dodge the #fridayfeels and ignore the celebs who get 13M views for simply blowing a kiss, there’s some real gems. Insta accounts with substance and style, their talented creators exhibiting their craft.

Like Dropscotch.

Any artist that skilfully blends clever, striking design with 1990s R&B and streetwear styles is a winner in my eyes. It was the TLC-inspired t-shirt that caught my eye and had me scrolling down the page, swiftly followed by the iconic Sade Adu set in colourful geometric style. The image of Brandy from the Sitting Up in My Room video (*finds Brandy on Spotify and listens to I Wanna Be Down on repeat*) made my stomach ache a bit with glorious nostalgia.

Dropscotch is the brainchild of artist and illustrator Luke Davis. He started the business earlier this year with his partner Emma, as a way to combine their key passions: illustration, fashion and music. Luke trained as a journalist and worked as an editor at a London creative agency, which gave him the chance to work with incredible illustrators and designers and ensured a good foundation in the software he uses to create his striking compositions.

Their work really spoke to me as it combines two of my favourite things; '90s R&B music and streetwear style. I grew up on the former and covet the latter. R’n’B was the soundtrack to my formative years and in the days before the likes of Spotify, digitalised music and streaming it filled my mixtapes and came crackling out of my first car stereo. I played SWV’s 1992 debut It’s About Time a million times in my early teens and remember being fascinated by TLC’s Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg video on MTV.

Although I’ve always been into a variety of genres of music, my tastes have further diversified with rock, indie, jazz, soul and country amongst my favourites but, to me, 1990’s R’nB doesn’t date and still sounds fresh.  From a fashion perspective, you only have to look at the likes of Vetements to see how much this era has influenced current trends. I’m just as comfortable in an oversized sweatshirt and voluminous tee than I am in dress and I’m hoping to build up my trainer collection rather than heels.

Dropscotch’s Luke cites his creative influences as including the Memphis Group style of design that was popularised in the 1980s, geometric pattern-making and classical portraiture. In addition, album sleeves, editorial designs and streetwear styles provide every day motivation. The TLC and Aaliyah t-shirts are part of a series called Down in which every illustration is inspired by a classic female R&B video of the 1990s.  They are going to release a few as screen printed t-shirts in the coming weeks and months, as well as signed art prints and possibly some accessories which is exciting.

And why the name Dropscotch? As Luke explains, all his favourite things drop - from basslines, to limited edition sneaker releases to dancing bodies, while hopscotch represents fun out on the street.

So there you have it, the power of Instagram. It’s worth enduring the not-so-good stuff to find a real gem like Dropscotch. I wish Luke and Emma all the very best and even though my t-shirt collection is getting a little out of control, I don’t know how long I can last before giving in to the S. Double-U. V. one.

For now, I’m off to listen to Brandy and Aaliyah like it’s 1994 (which it is usually is in my head).






Thanks to a certain person in a certain big white building in the USA, women’s rights have never been more precarious.

At the recent Women’s Marches following the inauguration of Donald Trump the message, by both male and female demonstrators, was that women’s rights are human rights and that “women won’t be Trumped”.

Sadly though, it appears it's still a man's man's man's world within the music industry. Artists including Bjork, Lady Gaga and Laura Mvula have been vocal about sexism in the industry, with Gaga speaking out about sexual assault and the desire to be taken more seriously as an intelligent and talented musician rather than being associated just with body image. A recent Guardian article reported that although women make up 59% of entry-level business roles, only 30% of women hold senior executive roles. 

But, there could be a change on the horizon. Music experts and celebrities alike are calling for women to be recognised in all aspects of the industry and Madonna's acceptance speech at the Billboard Women in Music 2016 event last year may have been deeply moving but was also rousing.

PRS for Music have previously reported that their membership of over 95,000 songwriters and composers is only 13% female and allegedly, there have been cases of female writers pitching songs under a male pseudonym to give themselves a better chance (very 19th century female author, don’t you think?). So, Laid Bare founder Rami Radi has started a campaign via 38 Degrees called #takehername to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017. 


The campaign is a call for action to encourage male artists to change their name across their social media platforms on IWD - to a female version of their name, in support of female musicians and songwriters in the industry. For IWD this year, women are being asked to ‘be bold for change’ but Rami wants to go one extra and encourage men to ‘change to be bold’.

You can be part of this amazing movement too. On Thursday 23 February 2017, Laid Bare will be staging an exciting event called Songbirds at London’s 93 Feet East on Brick Lanein support of this campaign and to challenge attitudes towards female musicians.


It’s not just about activism on the night though - the event is also, importantly, about showcasing and celebrating technically gifted women in music who are excelling in their field. The all female line up will comprise of five London based musicians, and celebrated DJ, Jenn Crothers will playsome great tunes late into the night.

Laid Bare’s newest signing Sula Mae will launch her excellent new single, “Blind” on the evening. East London singer-songwriter Sula cites Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin as vocal influences. Her EP of the same name is largely influenced by the Bristol-bred Trip Hop sounds of Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky. 

Also featuring are Cornish musician Polly Money who will showcase her melodious, sun-kissed voice and cheeky blend of pop and Bee Bakare whose upbeat, heartfelt tracks have earned her winner of the Future Music Songwriting Competition 2017. Completing the Songbirds all-female line up will be Brixton born and bred Elisa Imperilee whose debut EP is a melting pot of soul, R&B, jazz and hip-hop, and AutumnMusic who builds intricately-layered vocal loops live on stage, weaving her stories and experiences into songs that make her part singer, part producer, part poet.

It’s set to be an amazing evening - but with a purpose. “With almost 90% of the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame being made up of male musicians we need to move on from pigeon-holing female musicians by image and understand that good musicianship is all that counts” says Rami. 

Closing, with Madonna. In her BillBoard acceptance speech she called on women to “start appreciating our own worth, and each others worth” and encouraged them to “…seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to be inspired by. To collaborate with. To support. To be enlightened by.

Songbirds is a very good place to start.

Songbirds takes place on Thursday 23 February 2017 at 93 Feet East, 150 Brick Lane, E1 6QL.

Doors: 19.00. FREE ENTRY






We're Raving, We're Raving


Since our baby Evan was born life has been inevitably tumbled upside down. Late nights and bar hopping may have been replaced with even later nights and hopping from his bedroom to ours as we pray sleep will come soon, but I’ve thrown myself into parenthood head first and love every minute of it.

Yet since weathering the storm of the insane newborn days and finally mastering the introduction of solid foods (I NEVER WANT TO SEE A SWEET POTATO AGAIN), I’ve been relieved to discover it’s just about possible to do some of the old stuff we love to do with our little man in tow - just a slightly pared down version of it.

We’ve viewed some Bourgeois at the Tate Modern. We’ve pelted around breathlessly at Buggy Fit. We’ve perfected our downward facing dogs at Mums and Babies Yoga. Evan has even accompanied me to an interview on assignment for music magazine RockShot, for which I’m a contributing writer. But we’re yet to combine our love of raving/dancing/going to NIGHTCLUBS* with our love of Evan assuming, quite reasonably, that the two did not mix. (*I’m pretty certain they’re not called that any more).

Until now that is. A few weeks back we were invited to a Big Fish Little Fish event in my original ‘hood, South London, and we literally jumped at the chance. 


BFLF is an award-winning event that gives adults the opportunity to take a break from the norm and ‘rave on’ with their family. It’s a creative and exciting music and dance party for the post-rave generation of parents with children aged between 0-8 years old. Not only can you expect big name DJs, fancy dress themes, a licensed bar and club visuals, there’s free glowsticks and transfer tattoos, a licensed bar and baby chill out areas. Oh, there’s also a licensed bar. Did I say that already?

It’s the brainchild of founder Hannah Saunders who realised there was nothing to take her children to that would be relaxing, entertaining and daft but also where the adults could enjoy themselves as much as the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely love taking Evan to the Toy Library but sometimes there’s only so much Five Little Ducks you can take in one week. By blending their experience of being seasoned clubbers and parents, the BFLF team have grown the event from a monthly party in Brixton in 2013 to a major player on the family arts scene and an expanding force to be reckoned with. It takes place in large cities all across the UK, at special events such as at Selfridges on London’s Oxford Street and this year will see them take their mini-festival experience to Camp Bestival.

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BFLF is always held in interesting and quirky venues and for our Sunday afternoon rave, we headed off to The Bedford in Balham, an old haunt of mine known for comedy and live music as well as booze. The main gig took place in The Globe Theatre, shaped “in the round” which is a remarkable space and the perfect setting for a party.

On arrival and once we’d made use of the baby change available (Evan makes me work for my free time), I literally could not believe my ears and eyes. The dance floor was illuminated and the room decorated spectacularly with technicolour balloons and glitter. There were bubble machines, glitter cannons and club visuals as a backdrop, including the BFLF logo which is a cheery, lime-green take on the discernible smiley icon. The glitter cannon spurted out a mass of sparkly ticker tape with one big bang and this elicited a huge cheer from the baby rave massive, and me, as I nearly cried with excitement at the sheer joy of BEING OUT SOMEWHERE WITH BEER AND MUSIC.


Ah, the music. BFLF don’t mess about with the tunes. There’s no iPod on shuffle or muffled Spotify playlists from a tinny device here. The heartbeat of a BFLF event is a live DJ spinning an eclectic mix of dance music - like house, rave, hip hop, ska, techno, disco, UK garage, drum’n’bass, dubstep, grime - and big names such as J Food, Mixmaster Morris, Hatcha and Slipmatt to name many. At The Bedford, it was DJ Eddy Temple-Morris who treated us to deep baselines and whose highlights for me personally included  Origin Unknown’s Valley of the Shadows and Dead Prez’s It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop. I got a little too excited by NRG’s I Need Your Lovin and if Evan was old enough he definitely would have been embarrassed.


Taking a break from dancing and embarrassing myself so my husband could glide through the bustling crowd and let loose on the dance floor, I went for a mooch around. I discovered a craft area with themed crafts, a giant colouring mural and play-doh table, a homemade cake stall with delights from Captain Cookie and a Villa Pia baby chillout with soft mats beanbags and ball-pool. I also stopped by the bar where two Dads had their daughters propped up on said bar, a baby in one hand and a beer in another, and were reminiscing about Bagleys in Kings Cross before Granary Square and gentrification arrived. As Eddie played another cracker, an overexcited Dad yelled ‘TUNE!' enthusiastically to his friend and I fought the urge to shout back in agreement.


When I was a 20-something I hated it when the night was over and I’m no different now as a 30-something. Sadly it was nearly time to go home. We used to be 24-hour party people but now we must adapt and, thanks to BFLF, we’re 2-4 hour people. As the last tune played out, a marvellous parachute dance took place on the dance floor as Evan chewed on his glowstick and a bunch of scarily-cool young girls attempted to flog me a glowstick for one pound, the entrepreneurs of the future right there.

We put on our raving shoes and boarded the car, and miraculously my little fish slept all the way home back to E17. Me and my big fish Alex reminisced about our clubbing days and played Ratpack at a volume so as to be frivolous but not wake the baby.

BFLF work tirelessly to make sure each event is unique and this party was no different. It’s been described as ‘responsible irresponsibility’ and I think this is a fitting portrayal. It was quirky, loud-enough-to-be-fun-but-still-at-safe-volume-levels and a massive great heap of fun. I‘d read some reviews of the event for blog research and a 6-year old BFLF first-timer said it was, simply, “the best day of my whole life”.  I’m with the 6-year old on this one.

There were so many things I loved about Big Fish Little Fish; the music, seeing Evan grinning and looking around in wonder and dancing to old rave tunes. On reflection though, what I really loved the most was the opportunity to be out-out with my husband. To be like our old selves again, to be people as well as parents. Being sleep-deprived and passing like ships in the night, it’s so hard to carve out time for ourselves to laugh, dance and feel liberated. BFLF let us do that on a Sunday February afternoon in Balham and we had a blast.

I highly recommend it. Go get your rave on. 







As well as writing my own blog, I'm also a contributing writer for RockShot - a popular UK based online music photography magazine that features live gig reviews, festival coverage, interviews and portraits.

My fellow writers and photographers really know their stuff, and together we have compiled a list of the Albums of The Year 2016 which you can find here. 

My personal Top Ten Albums of the Year are below (in no apparent order).

The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It


Even The 1975’s frontman Matt Healy said “I’m challenging people to sit through an hour and 15 minutes and 17 songs that all sound completely different from each other. It’s quite an emotional investment”. Challenge accepted, it’s teeming with clever, brilliant tracks (and one of the most memorable album titles of the year even it if was too interminable for some people).

Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate


Following the success of gold-selling Home Again, which contains one of the most haunting tracks ever produced, Bones - the follow up doesn't disappoint. It’s complex and at times beautifully tormented and fragile, but overall a powerful collection of soulful music.

Justice - Woman


You don’t have to be an electro-head to appreciate French duo Justice. The explosive blend of disco, dance, rock, funk and more is a delicious antidote to a year that most of us would rather forget.

Beyoncé - Lemonade


Beyoncé's Lemonade featured on most of the 'best of' compilations of the year, and it's easy to see why. A politically charged, confident powerhouse of a record tackling a number of important themes including female identity, black empowerment and infidelity, Beyonce continues to dominate. Becky with the good hair needs to be worried.

Azymuth - Fênix


The kings of Brazilian jazz-funk Azymuth, are back after a five-year break (and sadly the passing of keyboard prodigy Jose Roberto Bertrami in 2012) to regain their crowns. A heady blend of bass, synths, percussion and vocals radiate a wave of energy of warmth.

Kadhja Bonet - The Visitor


Kadhja Bonet has been described as sounding “like someone who fell to Earth from heaven” - and she does. The Visitor is beautiful, mysterious and ethereal and touches upon a spectrum of genres including soul, jazz, and R’n’B. It is smooth and clear but it sizzles too.

Christine and the Queens - Chaleur Humaine


Chaleur Humaine spent the majority of the last two years in the French Top 40 and it’s easy to see why. It’s rich and rewarding electro-pop and very cool, just like Héloïse Letissier herself who secured the global-recognition she deserved this year.

Gallant - Ology


Ology is one of those albums that attaches itself to you on one single listen, in a really good way. Sultry R&B grooves recall the ‘80s and ‘90s but Gallant offers a modern, poetic take and an impressively broad vocal range. Skipping Stones is exquisite.

William Poyer - Born Lucky


Born Lucky, written by Poyer during his time in Mexico, is an impressive, 7-track collection of acoustic music that demonstrates a genuine attention to his craft and the sounds of driving, melodic Americana.

Solange - A Seat at The Table


A Seat at The Table had a lot of people very, very excited on release, and deservedly so. It reflects Solange’s evolution and represents empowerment and strength, proving she is an artist to be taken seriously, just like her big sister. Raw and powerful.

Extracts from this list appear on RockShot's Albums of the Year 2016 along with some excellent music recommendations. It's a diverse and brilliant collection of records - check it out.

Leena Ojala - Little Place (Saturday, Monday Remix)


I’m always keen to give a shout out to fellow Londoners, especially creative ones who make really good stuff. This this time around it's musician Leena Ojala.

Pronounced "Leeyna Oyala" the indie electronica artist has drawn comparisons to Adele and British singer-songwriter and electronica artist Låpsley but fully deserves to be recognised in her own right. Fortunately, praise has been bestowed by Fader, CLASH and IDOLMagazine amongst other credible publications and she was recently a featured artist on Spotify's Fresh Finds Hiptronix playlist.

A stand out track of Leena’s is the haunting Little Place. Produced by platinum-selling Benbrick (Paul Carter), it was given a beautiful visual accompaniment earlier this year in a video shot by renowned London-based director Aella Jordan-Edge in NYC. Leena’s probing lyrics and understated melodies are brought to cinematic life in the video, which visualises a young couple facing major change, and takes the viewer on a journey across Brooklyn Bridge, the back alleys of Manhattan and the enticing sands of Jacob Riis Beach.

The track is strong enough in its original guise, but a few weeks back it was treated to the dance effect by Swedish producer, fellow Londoner (another one! We are clever clogs aren't we) and Zane Lowe favourite Ludvig Parment AKA Saturday, Monday. Saturday, Monday has remixed acts like Naomi Pilgrim, Elliphant, Little Dragon - and now Leena Ojala - and has been described by DIY magazine as “a master of multiple guises”. He has also collaborated with the likes of Steve Angello, Pell and Hayley Kiyokoto and if you’re not familiar with his work then check out Headshake feat. Julia Spada for a delectable taster. *plays on repeat*.


Definitely worth checking out, this remix of Leena Ojala’s Little Place has diversified my Spotify playlist and given it a welcome lift. Electronica is not usually my immediate go-to genre, but this has opened my eyes a bit wider. An instantly catchy introduction, a haunting vocal and tight production make this a keep-on-listening kind of tune.

If you like your electronica blended with an 80s-infused vibe and take inspiration from Steve Nicks, London Grammar and Kate Bush then check out Little Place. Oh, and Leena’s debut EP, simply titled EP1, should be on your playlist too.

You can listen to the remix here

What are you waiting for?

Leena Ojala

Soundcloud | YouTube | Spotify | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Saturday, Monday

Soundcloud | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Gary Clark Jr. - Music To Heal


My favourite album at the moment is nine months old, so I’m rather late to the party (timekeeping has never been my thing you see) - although this party shows no signs of slowing.

The record was released in September 2015 but thanks once again to Jazz FM and their superior playlist I heard them play an album track one weekend and frantically Googled the words ‘I will shoot you down, in cold blood’ to bring the song to life (which admittedly would look really dodgy if someone poked around my search history).

The artist is Gary Clark Jr. The song was Cold Blooded. The album is The Story of Sonny Boy Slim and for the unenlightened, I’d strongly advocate you take a listen. 


A bit of background stuff. Gary Clark Jr. is an American guitarist, singer and actor based in Austin, TX - the Live Music Capital of the World and a city I've developed a bit of an obsession with over the years by virtue of its rich music, culture and arts scene. My interest was further fuelled after watching episode four of the Foo Fighters documentary, Sonic Highways, which featured Clark Jr. and examined the foundations of Austin’s live music scene.

The polymathic Gary Clark Jr has been hailed as “the savior of blues" but also specialises in hip hop, funk, jazz, soul, country and garage rock to name a few styles. His breakthrough record was Blak and Blu in 2012 but it was the sophomore album and genre-spanning The Story of Sonny Boy Slim that shone a light on his accomplished guitar playing and indisputable cadence.

Known for magnetic live performances (he was awarded SPIN Magazine's Golden Corndog award for performing in more major North American Music Festivals in 2012 than any other musician on the planet), he has shared the stage with a dazzling array of musical virtuosos including Jimmie and Stevie Ray VaughanB.B. King and Buddy Guy. In 2014, he worked with Foo Fighters on the track What Did I Do? / God As My Witness from their epic Sonic Highways album and was the very special guest of the band when they performed the track on Austin City Limits.

The Story of Sonny Boy Slim showcases Clark Jr.’s musical versatility and expressive voice, and is all laid-back melodies and killer guitar riffs that fizzes with substance and style. My favourite tracks are BYOB, Can't Sleep and Shake (released as a trifecta complete with a super cool video trilogy), Stay and Our Love but I’ll let you discover your own.

On 26 June, he performed on the West Holts Stage at Glastonbury Festival and plays London’s Brixton Academy on 29 June for what will no doubt be an electric set. I’m gutted I won’t be there, but if anyone is going I’ll happily settle with living it vicariously through you.

On the album’s kickoff track, The Healing, Clark Jr. declares with intensity “This music is my healing” and then in the reprise he repeats the line but changes the word “my” to “our". I’m a great believer that music can provide solace, an escape when things get tough. So, in these hugely turbulent times we find ourselves in with the country unsettled and divided you could do worse than listening to Gary Clark Jr. over a beer or two.

Let music be our healing.






Cheap Suit, Expensive Quality - Albert Man


It's always so inspiring to be contacted by unsigned artists, especially talented ones on the brink of releasing their debut album. What a thrill that must be, channelling all your hard graft and skill into your artistry and for an album release date to finally be on the horizon.

It’s now time for Albert Man to enjoy the spotlight.

A half-German Mancunian singer-songwriter based in London, Albert has been recording and playing gigs since 2014 and is a welcome regular on the London gig circuit, having played at venues including The Old Truman Brewery, World’s End and The Bedford earlier this year. In 2015 he released his debut EP Slam the Brakes On which amassed considerable interest and captivated Liverpool-based blog GETINTOTHIS, who described it as "A bit special, to say the least".

He releases his 11-track, self-produced album Cheap Suit on 23 May 2016.  It was recorded by Wes Maebe at the renowned RAK Studios, the recording space founded by the legendary producer Mickie Most, and where artists including Miles Kane, Mary J Blige and Frank Ocean have recorded live sessions.


2016 has been quite a year so far for this progressive musician. His accomplishments include (so far) reaching the finals of the esteemed Coffee Music Project - a high profile competition in London and NYC that showcases emerging musicians while engaging a deep spirit of community among those who share a passion for great music and coffee culture. All the proceeds from the live rounds go directly to support the charity Project Waterfall, and Albert stood out amongst the other 36 contestants which also saw Harry Pane crowned as runner-up. He played The O2 Priority Lounge before Grammy-Award winning hard-hitters Muse, and was a part of an emerging artist night at The Piano Works and Hotel Café Royal. In addition, notable live appearances have included Balcony TV where he gave a heartfelt performance of Do You Think About Me and London Live where he performed two tracks from the new album, Skimming Stones and The Dream Team.  Not a bad start, right?

Now for the music itself. It’s tricky to define Albert’s style as it’s quite multifaceted but "piano-led, melodic pop" is a great place to start. He has been described as the UK’s answer to Ben Folds, a modern day Elvis Costello with a bit of Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon thrown into the mix. He's also a bit of a disciple of 1950's rock'n'roll and 1980's Bowie and murmurs of this undoubtedly are reflected in his music. Lyrics are a key feature of his work; Albert recently said that, for him, the words and concept comes first and each of his tracks offer quirky lines inspired by the quotidian; like relationships ("we'd talk for hours until it got late, making the perfect mix-tapes"), getting inebriated with your mates and nostalgia. He has the finesse to convert the commonplace, the ordinary into something memorable.

I've had the advantage of listening to the full unreleased album, and standout tracks include the punchy Don't Be That Guy (dishing out invaluable advice like "Don't be that guy with the hideous tie, and the hair dye and the Hollywood smile who's stuck in 1989") and Not Yet Just One More with a strong piano lead and a luring chorus, that tells the tale of going on a bit of a bender even though we are getting older now (hugely relatable) and "when the spinning stops, you reconnect the dots, it's nothing new".


Albert's work is visually enticing too. The album cover for Cheap Suit was created by Polish illustrator and graphic designer Patryk Hardziej and the video for Cheap Suit, about a man whose life takes a turn for the worst after a relationship breakup which results in him becoming homeless, has striking accompanying imagery. You can see some of this work on Albert's Instagram page.

Cheap Suit is highly recommended and I wish Albert all the best with this album and his upward trajectory.

The suit may be cheap, but this is priceless.


You can catch Albert at the following, upcoming gigs across the UK.

18 May 2016 at Karamel Club, London with Success Express Music 

26 May 2016 at Paper Dress, London

07 June 2016 at Upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s, London

10 June 2016 at The Amersham, London

12 June 2016 at Jimmy’s Farm, Ipswich