Monday, August 14, 2017
Summer Playlist

Summer Playlist

My life is filled with music and I rarely go a day without it, whether that's watching it live, listening on Spotify, or popping a new vinyl on my turntable for a spin. My last playlist was February (but in my defense!!), my life has been so busy since, what with graduating, studying, working part-time, holidaying, and much more in between! Instead of a monthly playlist, I've put together a compilation of songs that have shaped the past 6 months and in particular my summer, which seems to have all flown past in a blur... I might not have had the time to sit down and write about it, but music has played (excuse the pun) a big part in 2017 so far. 

I've not been able to stop listening to Confidence Man, a two-piece band stemming from Oz with their banger of a track 'Boyfriend' - seriously, go and listen to it, and I dare you not to feel an urge to DANCE! I haven't been picking up much vinyl lately (moneys) but nabbed a vintage 'ole Madonna 'True blue' record with all the 80s pop dance vibes. I also had the pleasure (second time) of seeing TOPS in Manchester. Their new album 'Sugar at the gate' has been on repeat lately with my favorites being 'Petals' and 'Dayglow bimbo'. A perfect slow, moody but poppy summer album. Lastly, I had the once in a lifetime experience of seeing Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys perform his legendary album Pet Sounds in Liverpool last month. It was truly magical and perfect in every way, and naturally, it's made me want to listen to that timeless album even more...because there really is no other record that suits a summery day than something by The Beach Boys, riiiiiight?

8. Selena Gomez - Fetish ft. Gucci Mane I mainly like the vid lol
16. Luis Fonsi - Despacito lollll c'mon though I couldn't NOT

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
A Rotterdam Travel Guide

A Rotterdam Travel Guide

So, how does one spend a whirlwind 48hrs (or less) in Rotterdam? Well, I somehow managed to pack in hiring a bike, gazing at architecture, eating cupcakes, window shopping and a lil bit more into my short stay in Amsterdam's underrated cooler sister (the Solange to Beyonce, if you will). Here's what I got up to!

Firstly, I was over to visit an old friend of mine, who I met yeaaars ago when I used to live in France - and she just so happens to come from the Netherlands, and decided to move back there to study. Rotterdam is said to be the up-and-coming version of Amsterdam, and in her opinion she prefers it because it's got everything she needs and it's not crazy busy with tourists like A'dam is...I agree and was definitely won over by it's rich urban cafe culture and Dutch charm...

I touched down in Schiphol airport on the Tuesday evening and got the train with my friend to Rotterdam Centraal (the extra a is deliberate) Station which takes about 40 minutes or so. My friend's flat was only a 10 minute walk from the station so proper handy and gave us enough time to have a gander and take in some of the architecture -  in particular the Delft Gate Building, just located beside the station. It's a twin building that mirror off of each other - against the blue sky and cloudy backdrop, it literally looked like something out of The Truman Show.

We went for a little drink at Holy Smoke once i'd dropped my things off where I got a 'Sloe Roses' gin 'longdrink' (cocktail=longdrink in dutch, I think). The al fresco vibe is very much the way to hang out with friends in Rotterdam with a cafe and terrace on nearly every street corner.  

The next morning we were up bright and early to make sure not to waste a minute and got some filling breakfast at GYS, a bio/vegan/vege cafe - basically the hipsterest place you can think of ticking all the hipster boxes - exposed bulbs, check - wooden tables with plants, check, avocado somewhere on the menu, check - aka, my. favourite. kind. of. place. Because I am basic. We both got cappuccinos and the scrambled eggs with mushrooms and salad on toast - delicious, but the portion was way more filling than I expected and couldn't finish it (yep surprised me too).

Later, we rented out some bikes and explored the city from the famous cube houses, the white house, to the giant market hall and more. There was a real mixture of modern and old architecture going on which made it supaaa pleasing to the eyes. This was all fun and games till I realised pedaling backwards to break instead of using handle breaks proved quite difficult for me and nearly cycled in front of a tram...

Anyway! The market hall is a MUST VISIT - it had everything from savoury foods such as olives (so. many), meats and cheeses to sweet things like donuts (look. at. them) and cupcakes galooore. It reminded me of the Mercado san miguel in Madrid but in an even bigger building with a huuuge painted ceiling.

Later we parked up our bikes and explored some of the cute little street districts of Zwart and Witte, lined with shops and again, more outdoor cafes. It literally started pouring down with rain so we got some shelter inside Bazar, a Turkish bar/restaurant/hotel with another branch in Amsterdam. It was honestly stunning and I couldn't stop myself gazing around at the many coloured lanterns, fairy lights and colourful tiling - even the toilets and kitchenware were on point. 

If you're into gazing at some street art then wander far enough and you'll surely come across some weird and wonderful stuff in the side streets and around. They make for some good photo backdrops n all, not that I did that or anything...

That evening we hit Club Vibes - probably the sweatiest and cheesiest club in Rotterdam - it was 5 euros entry and we stayed right till 3am dancing to some cheesy spanish/french/dutch music and taking advantage of the cheap drinks. The next morning we felt a little delicate so just headed out for some tlc at UEB - urban espresso bar - for a refueling of coffee (I normally don't drink this much coffee and had 3 in the space of 2 days, LAXATIVE. OVERLOAD!) alongside a cheese/olive tapinade/sweet potatoe toastie with homemade ketchup. Love at first bite, ha.

Be sure to give Rotterdam a try on your next trip to the land of the clog...
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
A South Of Italy Travel Guide

A South Of Italy Travel Guide

It already feels like too long ago since I set foot on a plane to Naples for an Italian, pizza-filled adventure. This was actually my first EVER time to set foot on the boot-shaped country and I was feeling pretty excited about it. We (me and my pal) booked a 5 night stay in the city center with Emanuela's humble abode via Air b'n'b. We could have paid cheaper but other places seemed to lack the character that Emanuela's home promised from its photos. However, it was really reasonable pricing for the room and the home felt so authentically Italian with beautiful high ceilings, art deco tiled floors and grand pieces of furniture. You can check out her place here.

Here are some of my top things to do, places to eat, places to relax and some what to and not to do when in Italy!

C H I L L   V I B E S

Monday, July 10, 2017
British Style Collective 2017

British Style Collective 2017

I was going to write a huge post about the British Style Collective but instead decided to select some of the best pictures I got from the fantastic weekend to summarize my experience. I'm so grateful to have been invited along. I got the chance to see designer catwalks in the beautiful St. Georges Hall such as Edeline Lee and Barrus, see talks with fashion experts, get goodies and freebies, chat with designers and talk to and get a photo with Glamour's editor Jo Elvin. It was a truly 'pinch me' moment weekend that I'm so happy to have attended!

British Style Collective was formerly known as The Clothes Show Live in Birmingham and I'm delighted it's now in my hometown and hope it's here to stay. It was a city wide takeover with events going on in every part of town across different venues. It was 3 exhausting yet superb days.

Edeline Lee at St Georges Hall
Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Girl's Guide To Liverpool: International Women's Day

Girl's Guide To Liverpool: International Women's Day

By Billie Walker

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, a day created to celebrate women which is celebrated in over 100 countries around the world. Its popularity has grown a lot in recent years. With the grassroots organisers who brought together the Women’s March on Washington (which triggered women’s marches across the world) having organised A Day Without A Woman, for International Women’s Day 2017, awareness of this day will most likely skyrocket by next year. 

I spoke to Penny Dimond, founder and writer for The New Factory of the Eccentric Actor, who for the last twenty years has produced shows at the Marxist Memorial Library in London to celebrate International Women’s Day. Penny explained her reasons for celebrating and partaking in International Women’s day for the last two decades: “it’s a good time to recognise how far we’ve got and how far we have to go, it’s not stuck in the past it’s aim is to look forward”. 

Although it is an over used adage it’s undeniably important that to know where you are going you must know where you have been and most of us are unaware of the origins of IWD. Like a lot of our history, this day’s origins have been retold and edited to maintain a perception. It has been told by many and assumed that it was a day established to mark protests by New York’s garment and textile workers. However it emerged in the 1980s that this origin was manufactured in an effort to separate the day from it’s Socialist roots. It was in fact Russian women who left their factories and took the streets on March 8th 1917 to march for “Bread and Peace”. In Russia’s then capital Petrograd the Army backed demonstrators the Tsar to be toppled and as a result of the days events women were granted suffrage. In the early years of International Women’s Day all celebrates and protests were organised by communist and socialist movements in Europe. However as the day has grown in popularity, the political aspects of it have changed to be part of all women’s movements not just that with socialist political aims. Many events today are celebratory rather than political, which is why it is great to know that the creators of the Women’s March will be bringing the day back to it’s roots of protest.

There are many events happening all across Liverpool throughout March to celebrate women, looking at their influence, stories and power. The Girl Geeks are supporting and promoting the empowerment of women with their event at FACT in which they will be showing the film Code Girl, with a panel discussing ways we can be bold for change. When I asked Chelsea Slater, Co-Founder of Girl Geeks why this day was important to GG: "International Women's day is more than a news feed full of love for inspirational and courageous women. There are thousands of events all over the world that bring us together through workshops, debates and discussions around the subject of inequality that still exists in the world.  We've made a lot of progress over the last 50 years however it's important to know that we're still fighting, marching and taking action. IWD is a way we can be heard."

Liverpool Small Cinema is another of our cities great independent business, they are endless advocates for the representation of women in film. Over the last year with their ongoing initiative showing and celebrating the 58%, those films made by women trans and non-binary filmmakers. This year for IWD they are celebrating middle-eastern women with two showings tomorrow evening. Kicking off with Balls, Barriers and Bulldozers, which looks at woman’s football tour to West Bank Palestine. Followed by Speed Sisters, the story of the first all-women racecar driving team in the Middle East. All in all it looks as if the Liverpool Small Cinema will be hosting a very energetic night!

I often feel so happy to have chosen Liverpool as my home, as it is host to so many strong communities of women, which celebrate each other throughout the year such as the Grrrl Power art collective. In their own words they seek: “to readdress the gender inequalities in contemporary art, literature and music. Over the last four years women have consistently made up around 63% of creative art and design graduates in the UK, but earn up to £2,000 less then men working within the art sector.” To them International Women’s Day is important because of the issues it brings to our attention such as the unfair pay gap, Grrrl Power Liverpool argue “women are just as creative, hard-working and valuable as men, and this needs to be recognised and reflected not just in the work place, but also in wider society.” They are currently in the midst of the Lonely Girl Phenomenology creating an online archive of essays on sexism experienced “by women and non-binary people within the realms of relationships, romance and love”.

An event that I am personally looking forward to on Saturday is Gal-Dem’s talk at the International Slavery Museum. It will address the creation of the magazine they have created to “champion the writing of ‘women of color’”, as well as an exploration of the “erasure of Black Women in History”. Women’s influence in Britain has so often been eradicated and as I strongly believe that is our responsibility readdress history to fix the tale we have been told.

With so many amazing events to go to around Liverpool, addressing so many different subjects such women in history, women in sport and women in tech it almost feels as if their should be more than just one day a year in which women should be celebrated. I am extremely grateful to groups such as Girl Geeks, Liverpool Small Cinema, Grrrl Power and Gal-Dem and many others who have made it their mission to continuously celebrate and empower all women.  For all those not fortunate enough to live in Liverpool, the International Women’s Day website is a great way to find out what is happening in your city. Whether you are using this day to protest, give back, or learn something new I am wishing you all a great International Women’s day I hope it leaves you feeling empowered for the whole year!
Sunday, February 19, 2017
February Playlist

February Playlist

The vinyl collection is forever growing so I want to share some of the latest additions that I've been listening to on repeat over the past month.

(1) Talking Heads: 77 I first heard one of TH's songs during my Christmas holidays while watching BBC4 (I'm so kl) - Psycho Killer - which basically had me hooked and humming it day in/day out. This spurred me on to listen to more of the band and get 77 on vinyl - I've seen it so many times in vintage shops and car boot sales back home but I thought they were just "some weird 80's band" - which they are. However, I bloody love them. David Byrne's strained voice combined with staggered rhythms and sudden tempo ranges makes you think of a crazy guy trying to sound normal - but making it so catchy and unique. (2) Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks Score - Uhh omg. I can't explain the joy on my face when this arrived in the post. The most beautiful score I've ever seen, vinyl with a marble design, a zig-zag sleeve reminiscent of the zig-zag floors of Twin Peaks' black lodge, a lovely inside story to Angelo Badalamenti and thee most crispeeest of sounds. If you're a fan of Twin Peaks then you will love it - the most soothing and beautiful sounding of tv soundtracks there is. I bought mine at Norman Records here. (3) Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings And Food Talking Heads again! I snapped this one up from Ebay the same day I bought 77 on there too - baargains. After hearing 'The Big Country' during the trailer for the recently released movie 20th Century Women, I fell even a little more in love with TH and decided to discover them a little further. FYI - the rest of the soundtrack of 20th CW promises to be a TREAT too. V excited to see it tomorrow! (4) Cliff Martinez, Drive Score 5th Year Anniversary Edition Is it possible to fall in love with vinyl? I did with this one. Not one but TWO PINK vinyl's in this stunning score of Nicolas Winding Refn's epic 'Drive'. Featuring thee unforgettable, beautiful 'Nightcall' by Kavinsky, Under Your Spell by Desire and every other beautiful sound from the movie - a classic that I will treasure FOREVER. I bought mine on Amazon here.

My other current favourite vinyl's are: Parallel Lines by BlondieJane Birkin Serge GainsbourgMarvin Gaye's Greatest Hits (shoutout to Dig Vinyl Liverpool for this! <3), Stop In The Name Of Love by Diana Ross & The SupremesThe End Of Comedy by Drugdealer and Los Niños Sin Miedo by The are some of my favourite tracks from them...

A mini playlist:

Je t'aime, moi non plus - Jane Birkin Serge Gainsbourg
Got to give it up - Marvin Gaye
Get Ready - Diana Ross & The Supremes
The End of Comedy - Drugdealer
No me gusta, te quiero - The Parrots

++ an extra, Wicked Games by Widowspeak - soooo nice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
January Playlist

January Playlist

I'm back again with some of my favourite songs as of late...and some of my vinyl recommendations thrown into the mix as well.

I got Angel Olsen's 'My Woman' for Christmas and I'm listening to it as I write this post - I love this woman and her voice - an album filled with songs of sadness, pain and love. My favourite tracks are 'Shut Up Kiss Me' & 'Never Be Mine'... as well as all the rest to be honest...

Recently I picked up Weyes Blood's 'Front Row Seat To Earth'. Weyes Blood has a Carol King vibe and a euphoric voice that will fill you with nostalgia but with calmness and content all at the same time. My favourites are 'Seven Words' and 'Generation Why'. 

The same day I got Sonic Youth's 'Goo' - both from Probe Records in Liverpool. I've wanted to get my hands on Goo for quite some time - not gonna lie, I just really love the cover buuut I'd heard a few tracks off the album and decided to take the plunge and discover the rest. The album is a mix of cool melodic riffs, straight punk rock and an array of simple and complex song structures. My favourites are 'Kool Thing' and 'Dirty Boots'.

A mini playlist:
Monday, January 02, 2017
Girl's Guide to Liverpool: Liverpool Girl Geeks

Girl's Guide to Liverpool: Liverpool Girl Geeks

The ‘Girl’s Guide to Liverpool’ by Billie Walker aims to provide you with information on the people and events created around the city to support and celebrate women.

Ada Lovelace and Hedy Lamarr have been widely acknowledged as playing pivotal roles in the progression of technology. However these women’s achievements are rarely taught in schools and the Technology sector is still to a large extent seen as a man’s game. Liverpool Girl Geeks aim to change this.

When I met with Chelsea Slater, co-founder of Liverpool Girl Geeks, she explained to me how discouraged young girls are to follow their passions in the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). As only 17% of the UK tech sector is made up of women, it is no wonder these girls do not see a place for them in this department. Not only does the makeup of the tech world deter these girls from their passions, often parents and teachers do too. Chelsea informed me that teachers have put off some girls from choosing courses because the teacher has told them they will be mostly male dominated. With girls being discouraged from their passions as early as when choosing their GCSEs, it is no wonder that this year 100,000 tech jobs went unfilled when those inspired to enter these career paths are being prevented at such a young age. 

Liverpool Girl Geeks is an organization geared towards fixing this gender imbalance by inspiring and supporting women in the tech industry. One of their main projects is the Girl Geek Academy at FACT: which is an eight week course for 11-16 year old girls. This course teaches girls important tech skills (the last course being based around coding) but is also designed to show them how these skills can be used creatively and builds their confidence. Feeling supported by the group is as important for these girls as the skills themselves, when they are given little or no encouragement from their schools and peers concerning their interests. Chelsea told me they plan to continue these Girl Geek Academies at FACT, with courses on music and fashion tech to further demonstrate to young girls how many creative paths tech skills can lead them into and soon hope to be offering workshops to universities around Liverpool.

Not only do the Liverpool Girl Geeks encourage teenage girls to take career paths in the tech industry, they also want to inspire women of all ages into learning tech skills. As we are living in a world where children can do more with an iPad than the parent, it is understandable that we all need to learn to be tech-literate. The job market of the 21st Century demands we must be masters of our own publicity and demonstrate to any potential employer how tech savvy we are.  

On Thursday 8th December Liverpool Girl Geeks is hosting a workshop: Get Your Head Around Code. As code is the language used to create apps and websites, it is an extremely useful skill to have and this workshop is for all abilities even the extremely technologically challenged (like me). So if you want the chance to learn a valuable skill in a supportive friendly environment you should definitely join me there.