On my radar: the cultural highlights of Laurent Garnier | Music


Bborn in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, in 1966, Laurent Garnier started DJing in Manchester in the late 1980s, becoming a regular at the Haçienda. In the early 90s, he ran several clubs in France and began to work as an electronic music producer. Also known as Choice and DJ Pedro, he has been releasing music since 1994; his next album From Película, produced in collaboration with the French psych rock group the Limiñanas, is released in September. A documentary about his life, Laurent Garnier: Off the Record, directed by Gabin Rivoire, receives its British premiere at the Manchester International Film Festival on July 11.

1. Television

Staging

David Tennant and Michael Sheen in Directing. Photograph: Screengrab / BBC / Staged Films Ltd

It blew me away: the depth, the self-mockery, how well crafted it was. It’s the best-written series I’ve seen in a long time. It’s David Tennant and Michael Sheen trying to rehearse a play on Zoom, but they’re just talking about their issues. It also showed the precariousness of artists in England: here [in France] the state will look after you if you are not working, because we understand that actors and musicians are not always on stage. When you see how other countries treat artists, you may not always have to complain – we are pretty well looked after in France.

2. Music

Farhot: Fire of Kabul Vol. 2

Farhot
Farhot: ‘more soulful than hip-hop’. Photography: Firas Colin

I spent a lot of time listening to records because I still haven’t returned to DJing and my normal life. It’s a brilliant hip-hop album: it’s a German-Afghan producer who mixes lyrics and instrumentals, and uses a lot of samples of Arabic music. He really taps into his Afghan roots – it shows in his music and the way he uses imagery. He’s more soulful than hip-hop. What I love about this album is that it really grows in you – it’s very elegant. It has a cinematic vibe from the 70s.

3. Documentary

L ‘Workuvre (dir. Jairus McLeary, Gethin Aldous, 2017)

The work
The job: “hardened convicts doing weekly group therapy”. Photography: Joe Wigdahl Photography

A friend of mine who used to work in music and now does massage therapy sent me this. It takes place in Folsom State Prison in California, and twice a year outsiders are invited to spend four days with the convicts – who are hardcore, they all killed people – who are doing a weekly group therapy. It is very raw. I was touched by the fact that these guys agreed to be filmed at a really difficult time in their lives. Once back in society, these convicts do not go back to prison, so it does them a lot of good.

4. Dance

Room with a view

Room with a view
“About the Younger Generation, Their Thoughts and Concerns”: Room with a View. Photography: Ballet National de Marseille

I’m really into contemporary dance, but it’s the only show I’ve been able to see for a year and a half. It’s choreographed by a collective from the Ballet National de Marseille called (La) Horde, and the music, from Rone, is amazing. It’s about the younger generation and their thoughts and concerns: the environment, love, anger. The scene looks like a post-apocalyptic world, everything collapsed; it starts with a rave, and they dance without a word for 15 minutes, then it gets violent. It’s like a kick in the face: it’s very dark, in a way, but it’s a picture of today’s issues. It’s brilliant.

5. Graphic novel

Hip-Hop Family Tree, Ed Piskor

Hip-hop family tree
Hip-Hop Family Tree: “The Birth of Hip-Hop in the Bronx”. Photography: Fantagraphics

I just finished this: it’s four books about the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx, the first 15 to 20 years. He follows people like Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaataa, the Sugarhill Gang. The drawings are superb, and there are so many anecdotes: what I loved is that you are in New York with the people in their offices, stabbing in the back, learning about the record companies – who quickly realize they’re going to make a lot of money with it. People like Basquiat, the Clashes, Blondie and Keith Haring were also very involved.

6. Film

The Father (dir. Florian Zeller, 2021)

Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins in The Father
Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins in The Father. Photograph: Sean Gleason / AP

An astonishing film. It plunges you into the head of an old man who loses touch with reality [played by Anthony Hopkins]: it’s like a labyrinth in his mind. Every time you walk into a room, something has either moved or changed: different pictures, different furniture. Her daughter is Olivia Colman, who is brilliant, but sometimes there are other women who are meant to be the girl as well. But it’s very subtle – and the whole movie is like that. So even as a spectator, you are lost: you feel the despair, you feel everything.



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