First I noticed the noise. A jovial spirit. A political speech was almost reaching its climax on the steps of the State Library. Its enthusiastic reception by onlookers distracted me from looking in their direction, until I spotted his shoes. A pretentious pair of Raf Simons, reminding me of my fashion-forward, younger brother. Thoughts of my sibling vaporised as my vision drew a line up the tall pair, standing together, engaged in the surrounding commotion. It’s strange that the electric shock didn’t jolt through me sooner. It took more moments than necessary to realise who was the non-Raf Simons-wearing member of the pair. What felt like atrial fibriliation soon came over my whole when my eyes laid upon his intrigued, side-looking profile. And almost as jarring as the feeling in my heart was the action of my feet on the pavement. I retreated. I walked in the other direction, completely alert to keeping my exterior appearing the opposite of what I was internally experiencing. He appeared mature. The gentle spirit who drew comfort from indulging in pop music with me didn’t seem present. My mind toyed with arising assumptions about who stood with him, wearing the shoes. A new boyfriend, or simply a mature, styled-to-intimidate, best friend? The energy I perceived, circling around them, bound them together. By all means, a power couple stood before me. I began to feel ridiculous for moving to Melbourne. Embarrassed. Did he sense my energy within his vicinity, or notice the agility of someone desperately backtracking at the sight of him? I prayed not. The turbulence left inside of me, as I raced from the moment, soon settled into rational thought. I asked myself, do I still yearn for him? Yes. Pure and simple but I’m wise enough to know the cake is poison. Detrimental patterns of thought ran like a film, too often played, on the screen of my mind. Cinema that always compares myself and my achievements with his, in a desperate attempt to seek solace in validation. I told myself I’m okay, moments later I knew I was okay but running into an ex is never okay.
Me in @jessewakenshaw’s studio today. Making magical things happen.
LA based photographer, Luke Austin, contacted me recently to ask if he could use this shot he took of me in his upcoming, yet to be titled, coffee table book. Of course, I said yes. See the rest of the shoot here: http://theshadybeau.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/matthew-harden-by-luke-austin.html
Even though it’s only 5 seconds (at the 2:17 mark), here’s my film clip debut in Pharrell Williams’ Sydney video for ‘Happy’!
A BTS shot from the S&M segment of the shoot I did for The Feed Magazine. Wearing accessories from The House of Priscilla and vest by Saxony.
A BTS shot from a NY club kid inspired shoot I did for The Feed Magazine. Wearing top by Don’t Want No Scrub and pants by Cinnie Ho.
theloveasylum asked: You are too damn beautiful for words. Nope, can't deal.
I’m movin’, I’m comin’, can you hear what I hear.
Weatherwise, Sydney lost its summery sheen on the night of January 8, except, perhaps, inside the Metro Theatre, where an absolute paradise existed. Stunning ambiences filled the tight, 1000-person-capacity venue as soon as there was a lady on stage named Solange Knowles. In front of her, a sold out crowd of culture vultures satisfied their hungers as she put on a show worthy of pleasing even the toughest of critics. Although, I doubt any detractors slipped through the Metro doors. Knowles absolutely slayed in front of, what looked, sounded, and felt like, a completely adoring crowd.
In the supporting slot was Sydney based trio, Movement. Their romantic yet haunting vocals smoothed over stimulating synths and bass-lines, making the majority of the wait for Solange flow blissfully until her four-man band arrived, with two female backing vocalists in tow. The posse of assuredly stylish musicians slammed straight into Solange’s opening choice, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, from her True EP, before she was even in sight. As soon as she was visible, boldly so, in a grey jumpsuit stamped with neon green, her presence spoke a commanding yet casual language that, gaging by spectator noise levels, charmed absolutely all.
Solange’s sound is relative to ‘70s disco, ‘80s dance-pop, indie-rock and timeless R’n’B, without absorbing too much from any one genre to prevent declaring it progressive. Her music only inches toward imitation in the opening hip shake of ‘Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work’ (True EP), which throws back to Madonna’s hit, ‘True Blue’, released in 1986, the same year Solange was born. She sang ‘Some Things’ secondly, owning every moment of that despairing tune’s sentiments.
Solange’s music only seems to shimmer more superbly in its live translation, particularly taking into consideration her execution of vocals. She delivers divine falsettos that can take even the most sinful among us to church. During ‘Bad Girls’, set-listed thirdly, this was obvious. As her voice sailed effortlessly higher, she beckoned us to “drop lower” to the track’s sensual rhythms. All in all, her vocals tend to float comfortably and consistently higher than her ballad-bellowing, older sister.
Her performance was void of any serious choreography yet the way she delivered her easy steps with heartfelt character made it look downright skilful. The whole time it appeared she moved only because her music genuinely moves her, not because anything was meticulously pre-rehearsed. The head full of braids she wore, reaching lower than her behind, swished around her slight frame as hypnotically as she did on stage, an extension of her exuberant physicality. Evidently a seasoned voguer too, she impressively shifted through shapes suggestive of hieroglyphic figures. Later she adoringly kidded that these moves, with arms posed above her head, were simply a ploy in checking the situation with her underarm sweat. Beyoncé would never!
While many artists, particularly in the pop-sphere, craft their showmanship with an approach that conducts the audience member to gawk at their mastery, Solange is different. When she’s exerting on stage, with an expression of gratitude stretched across her face, it’s all inviting. Solange’s show was a demonstration in encouraging bliss, made all the more obvious before leaping into one song, she asked the audience: “How many of you guys came out to have a little dance tonight?” (Enthusiasm erupted). “Alright, let’s do summa that!”
Solange cherry-picked a handful of songs from her back catalogue such as ‘T.O.N.Y.’, ‘Cosmic Journey’ and ‘Sandcastle Disco’ from 2008’s Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams and the breathtaking ‘Cash In’ from her record label’s (Saint Records) launch compilation ‘Saint Heron’ to weave into the mix. But the majority of the set-list’s remainder leant heavily on 2012’s True EP. Unusually, the enormous ‘Losing You’ from this highly acclaimed collection of Alt-R’n’B jewels wasn’t favoured for the finale, that honour went to the breezy ‘Sandcastle Disco’. ‘Losing You’ was positioned three songs from the show’s end but didn’t have any of its majestic pull reduced. An atmosphere of elation immediately accompanied the crowd’s recognition of its opening chords. Despite the anthem’s balmy vibrations, it seems everyone has a tale of heartbreak invested in that song; the audience’s sing/scream-along was charged with complete passion and ache.
While it shouldn’t be important that Solange is the younger, edgier sister of Beyoncé, it’s a detail that will take a long time to shift from focus. Although, in saying that, I don’t believe her older sister’s existence is in the way of the seemingly hyper-creative career she has ahead. The outrageous heights of appreciation the crowd were radiating toward Solange and her accompanying musicians after each and every song should attest to that belief. During the sheer pleasure of that performance, Solange wasn’t standing in anyone’s shadow.
This year I really loved life with Sound Cloud & its associated remix culture. So I made a playlist for y’all, comprising of my fave tracks. I titled the party set “Vibrator” because the amount of good vibes I’ve received this year has been orgasmic. Listen: