Monday, April 20, 2015

Purple Peanuts

(Image credit:

I recently came back from Melbourne (which I will write more about on the blog soon), and stumbled across this tiny Japanese cafe. With a Japanese issue of London Calling by the Clash hung on the wall, juxtaposed with fresh juice and sashimi, it was pretty perfect.

This punk hole-in-the-wall cafe had small dishes with lots of flavour. The boyfriend and I both got the chicken curry, which was so fresh. I just kept wishing we had something similar in Sydney! He also got some tempura prawn sushi which was crispy and spicy. Everything here was light, but packed a punch.

It's in the CBD, across the road from The Age building down Collins St. On the way out, I'd recommend picking up some matcha chocolate - for the size, it isn't cheap. But it's definitely worth it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Backstage at Macgraw, MBFWA Day 2

I spent the first full day of fashion week running around organising interviews and spending time backstage. From hanging out with Vogue photographers, seeing the latest looks from the best designers, and jealously eyeing up all the best street style designs, Day 2 was pretty great. Here are some of my snaps from backstage at the Macgraw show, where a hot pink carpeted runway, 60s inspired lace and flowing gowns à la Picnic at Hanging Rock were the the highlights. Not to mention those glittery slip ons, I need them in every colour. 


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Indigenous Land Rights

This was the editorial to my Editor-in-Chief issue of Honi Soit. Read the entire issue here.

The beginning of this semester has been marked for me by visits to the Redfern Tent Embassy, and hearing stories from friends who travelled on the 50th Anniversary Freedom Ride. With first hand perspectives and experiences giving myself and others a greater understanding of Indigenous land issues and the constant disadvantages these groups face at the hands of our government, it was infuriating to hear Tony Abbott recently say that Indigenous Australians were making “lifestyle choices” to live in remote communities. 

This ill-conceived statement underscores the ongoing struggle to prevent the forced closures of remote Aboriginal communities. It highlights the contradictory attitudes of state and federal governments to native title. It raises serious concerns regarding the ability for a group to retain their ongoing, inherent connection to the land. And it limits a group’s capacity to observe the same traditional laws as they always have. 

In other words, closing these communities severely limits these traditional and intrinsic practices, and hence the ability for an Indigenous group to achieve native title. 

This is so much more than losing the opportunity for a white man to inform Indigenous groups that the land is traditionally theirs. Indeed, it’s hard to sum up in an editorial what Indigenous peoples will lose if their communities are closed. The deep and damaging loss of an essential connection to their land, and the resulting practices and belief systems that will be wiped with these closures, is traumatising. But this is something that won’t just happen from this alone; it’s been happening since white Australians arrived. Racism is the lifestyle choice here. 

This is an issue that my white privilege can only begin to explore. But on pages 14 and 15 this week, Honi attempts to look into some specific issues to do with land management and Indigenous communities to investigate this topic further. 

A white property owner would rarely, if ever, be told they are not allowed to live on the land they own. Indigenous Australians shouldn’t be stripped of theirs either.

Monday, March 30, 2015

All About Women

This article was originally published in Honi Soit. Read it here.

Sophie Gallagher attended the All About Women festival , where she spoke to Celeste Liddle and Clementine Ford.

At the All About Women festival, I found myself in a room with Roxane Gay, Clementine Ford, Anita Sarkeesian, Celeste Liddle, Germaine Greer and Tara Moss. Women like Rosie Batty, Annabel Crabb, Jane Caro and Judith Lucy were huddled around me, discussing the problems and solutions of every issue from domestic violence to women in comedy. To say this was my feminist dream world is an understatement. 

The festival, held at the Opera House last weekend, was a place where women could get together and discuss everything that mattered to them in 2015. From becoming ‘bad feminists’, to embracing intersectionality, this year’s festival reached a more radical and honest point than it had in the past. 

I spoke to festival curator Ann Mossop, who said the event was a place where the issues facing women could have a voice. “All About Women is a chance for us to really put women centre stage, and make sure that we’re hearing from women whose ideas are important, but also hearing about topics that matter to the women that make up our audiences.” 

That said, the complete lack of trans and non-binary female speakers was disappointing, and an error that Mossop hopes to rectify in the future, “ensuring important issues are addressed over time”. The festival was a success, but its gaping holes are a broader representation of the effort feminism still needs to make to ensure greater inclusivity and acceptance. 

Despite this, Mossop hoped that audience members could still have a rich experience, and use the knowledge they learnt. “We can’t solve all the problems of the world. What we’re hoping to do is give women tools to think about important issues, share the insights of other people and take that into their own lives.” 

Celeste Liddle & Clementine Ford on How to be a Feminist 

Celeste Liddle is an Arrernte Australian. A freelance writer and unionist, she blogs personally at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist. 

SG: What are the biggest issues facing feminism today? 

CL: Individualist feminism versus collectivist feminism—so the fight between individual empowerment and feminism as a movement about the current social structures that rule our lives. I think that, on one hand, I have a lot of admiration for celebrities who get out there and proclaim their feminism. But on the other hand, it allows the dialogue to shift to an individual level, which is not what it’s about; feminism is meant to be about empowering the least powerful in society and helping the entire world to become a more equitable place. 

SG: Do you think there is a divide between Indigenous and white feminism?

CL: The way I see it, through the process of colonisation, Aboriginal women have to grapple with every single thing that any other woman would—so everything from oppressive beauty structures, to representation in media—but we’re doing it alongside the politics of being displaced people in our own country. There’s that mix between fighting patriarchy within our own communities and trying to state that we’re diverse people, versus actually fighting for a voice in a broader movement. It’s an incredibly difficult thing. I see the politics of bodily sovereignty and land sovereignty running parallel because there’s no other way that I can actually envisage it. To liberate every woman in this country, from my limited perspective, you have to actually liberate Indigenous women, because they’re the most trampled. 

SG: What role does intersectionality play in feminism? 

CL: No movement is going to be successful without looking after the least powerful, so there’s no point in a revolution that preferences the exact same white male voices. Intersectionality should be central for everyone’s politics—if we’re not looking after those who need the most assistance we’re just going to reinforce the same power structures over and over again no matter what revolution it achieves. 

Clementine Ford is a freelance writer and broadcaster who writes on feminism and pop culture. 

SG: What do you believe are the biggest issues facing women today? 

CF: Silence, continued sexual oppression, reproductive health care. I think the two biggest issues for me are economic freedom and bodily autonomy. Bodily autonomy can be whether or not you choose to reproduce, whether or not you identify your body as woman even if others don’t—I think that allowing women to make choices that men are entitled to make is a huge part of feminism. But one of the big challenges is trying to figure out how we dismantle the current structures of power and recreate something better, because we can’t actually achieve equality within the structures we’re based in currently. They’re invariably predisposed to disadvantage certain groups. 

SG: Domestic violence is an issue you’ve brought into the public discourse through your writing. What needs to happen to affect change and create more awareness? 

CF: One of the biggest things we can do is fund women’s health services around the country. They already don’t get a huge amount of funding and they have to battle for their funding every year. The people who are doing the actual work for gender equality need to be given more money and more access to public spaces to share their message. We need to start taking it seriously and stop treating it as an issue where only a handful of men will ever be implicated. It’s not just about whether you’ve raised a hand to hit a woman, it’s about the underlying foundations of sexist attitudes and belief systems. So what really needs to be cut off at the root is the very fundamentals of sexist ideas. Sexist jokes and attitudes, even if they are trickling, reinforce the idea that women are less. If the weight of a single sexist joke is a drop of water, enough drops of water will still fill an ocean. 

SG: What is feminism to you? 

CF: A lifesaver.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Twelve Rehabs, Twenty-Three Detoxes and Three Deaths

This article was first published for Honi Soit. Read it here.

Sophie Gallagher interviews Rayya Elias.

Rayya Elias has been clean since 1997. The Syrian-American lesbian is an ex- junkie, an ex-con, a post-punk rocker and a hairdresser, who has experienced everything from homelessness to record and book deals. In 2013, spurred on by her best friend Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame, she wrote Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk, from the Middle East to the Lower East Side. Here, she tells Honi about her life of extremes. 

SG: You immigrated to America from Syria when you were seven years old. What was different about America, and what challenges did you face? 

RE: The first and biggest challenge for me was that I didn’t speak English when I moved to Detroit. I was born in Syria in 1960, and it was pretty lavish there. We had money; we were Christian Arabs and not Muslim Arabs. In the late 1960s, nationalisation started and they were going to take my father’s land, so he decided to move to Detroit. It was great, but I was always the darkest one in the room. So it was very chaotic, and not speaking the language amplified everything by a thousand. 

SG: Why did you move from Detroit to New York? 

RE: I moved to New York in my 20s. I was already very rebellious, which was the reason I moved there. I always say that New York was the city of lost souls; I felt like such a lost soul at the time and such an outcast. I fit right into the scene in New York, but that was the scene that I chose: the punk rock music and art scene. The chaos always followed me around, or I brought it with me. I went headfirst right into it. 

SG: Back to Detroit. How did you discover your knack for hairdressing? 

RE: In Detroit in 1979, I was playing in a band, and this kid came up to me wanting a mohawk. He had knicked these clippers from his parents, and I refused. He was like, “Come on man, everyone knows how to cut a Mohawk. I know you could do a really good job.” So I plugged them in and gave my first mohawk in a bathroom at a club called Todd’s, and that was it. People started calling me, like his friends, saying we want this and we want that. I just found that I could do it, and I was being paid $5 a haircut in my basement. I thought, “God, this is something I can do seamlessly”. So I dropped out of University, went to hairdressing school, and I loved it. 

SG: While you studied hairdressing, did you also pursue your music? 

RE: I was in beauty school, and I was going to punk-a-billy clubs, because punk-a-billy was really happening then, and in hairdressing school everyone was gay, into music, into fashion. So I feel like that was the border that took me over into the techno, new-wave and post-punk club scene in Detroit. I saw bands that were really cool but could hardly play. Like I remember seeing U2 one time at this small little biker bar called Harpo’s in downtown Detroit, and they could hardly play their instruments but they sounded amazing because they were just kind of making noise. So we would get bands together where we had the same musical taste, nobody knew how to play, but we just used to like hanging out together and make sound, make noise. Pretty soon, we all kind of learnt how to play together. I found that that was my love. 

SG: In Harley Loco, you write about realising that you were a lesbian. Did you struggle to come to terms with your sexuality? 

RE: Being from a Syrian family, it was very hard. I hid it for the longest time. I was with a guy for like seven years because I loved him and I thought I could do it. I just couldn’t anymore. That was one of the biggest reasons why I had to move to New York, because I realised it was somewhere I could be free. It was very shameful, I had to keep it to myself for years, and a lot of the drug use came behind that, trying to hide and not feel uncomfortable in my own skin. That was a way of numbing out the edges and being able to dissipate into who I thought was me. 

SG: Have rebellion and addiction been significant themes in your life? 

RE: Absolutely. But the biggest theme I think, underneath that, was feeling uncomfortable.When I am uncomfortable, I am rebellious.When I am uncomfortable, I get loud. When I am uncomfortable, I get really raunchy. Growing up, that was the only way to deal with it, as most know. 

SG: Can you share with us some of your most vivid memories of New York? 

RE: Oh god, so many. I remember being homeless. I remember sleeping on a park bench. I also remember being at the Area club, standing in between Andy Warhol and John Cage and doing drugs off the bar. I remember doing the hair for an Armani show at the Armoury, and then running down copping dope on the Lower East Side and going to a shooting gallery with a woman that had no teeth. I paid her five bucks to go in and use. The juxtaposition of the memories covers a wide spectrum of it all back in the ’80s. 

SG: What was life like at those low points, and what were you feeling? 

RE: I wasn’t. I was doing everything in my power not to feel. I went out of my way to completely exorcise feeling from my mind, my heart, my body, and that’s the whole thing. That’s why, unless we have been literally taken to the end, we usually don’t come back unless we really want to. Not because we have to, because we want to. 

SG: What made you want to come back? 

RE: I had woken up after basically trying to kill myself after a lot of drugs in one shot, and I couldn’t do it correctly. I just remember looking around and thinking, ‘oh my god, this is what my life looks like?’ This thing that started happening out of being an artist, and partying and being social, has only ever landed me in one place, and that’s on a bathroom floor or in a room, alone, with a needle on my arm and shit all over the place. And it’s funny, because after 12 rehabs and 23 detoxes and jail and institutions and three deaths, I didn’t need to go anywhere. I just basically picked myself up, shook myself off and took about a week’s worth of Vicoden just to get rid of the ache of withdrawing, started going to meetings and got clean. 

SG: Reflecting on your life, what message have you lived by? 

RE: The constant message in my life back then was you’re a fuck-up, get over it, be more, be strong, be bold, be brave. And now, it’s you are enough. Be bold, be brave, be strong, be love. It’s the opposite message, but it’s still the same. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Amanda Talbot's Key to Happiness

This article was first published on Broadsheet. Read it here.

Amanda Talbot's new book, HAPPY, taps into the best ways to create truly happy spaces.

Our homes are representations of ourselves. And design influences how we live and interact with the world. It’s these ideas that designer Amanda Talbot explores in her new book, HAPPY. In it she reveals how good design creates joyous living spaces.

“I found that even though people were following different paths, their main goal was to be happy. It’s such a simple thing, but it only dawned on me then – we live to be happy,” she says. The renowned designer, and previous assistant editor of ELLE Decoration, embarked on a quest around the world, to find the homes and people that have made this idea a reality.
Talbot explored luxe high-rise apartments in New York, isolated, minimalist homes in Scandinavia and chic beach shacks on the edges of Australia. The result is a comprehensive study of beautifully designed homes that reflect their owners’ personality. In HAPPY, vivid photographs, interviews, quotes and reflections catalogue people who may live differently, but who have spaces that capture their inner emotions.
Themed chapters, such as colour, light, edit, nature, flow, location, memories and play, which Talbot saw as the elements that make a home, organise the book. They collate spaces from different extremes and backgrounds, encouraging readers to create their own unique space from strategic design, using carefully chosen textures, colours and finishes.
One home she explores, New York’s “SkyHouse”, caters to the playful aspects of her book. It has an Anish Kapoor slippery dip and a rock-climbing wall.
Another belongs to her friends Des and Dee, who lived for a time in a builder’s hut at the back of a garden nursery. It is featured as part of the location chapter and proves that embracing where you live, despite where it is, “Highlights that a home can still be made into something special,” Talbot says.

One of the most influential homes for her was in Copenhagen. Though its simple and elegant Scandinavian style was far from unique – with neutral colours complementing snow-sprinkled windowsills – it was instantly different when Talbot walked inside. Speaking to the owner, she discovered it was due to the energy within the home.
Though this sounds spiritual, Talbot confirms it isn’t. In HAPPY, she quotes architect Jan Rösler who says, “To preserve the spirit of the room is the challenge of change.”
HAPPY explores unique homes from around the world to show the importance of designing a space from what you love, rather than what’s on trend. “The book is there to stimulate inspiration. Everyone’s style is different, and everyone’s love of colour is different. Focus on you first,” she says.
Throughout the pages of HAPPY, Talbot demonstrates how thoughtful design can contribute to growing confidence and optimism. She shows how architecture and interior design, at their best, can make us more enlightened and productive, and how it can contribute to an overall sense of wellbeing. The book reveals the complexities of happiness, and how that translates into creating intelligent living spaces that speak to our hearts as much as our heads.
HAPPY, at its core, is an ode to simplicity – a book that draws you back to your fundamental truths. “It’s not about creating this upbeat space, but a home where you can feel comfortable, or cry, or have some quiet time. You could be working there, be cooking, have kids; it’s about creating a space that fits your life like a glove.”
HAPPY by Amanda Talbot, is published through Murdoch Books. It is available at all good book stores.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Raury's Revolution

Originally published at Honi Soit - read it here

Sophie Gallagher talks about the impending music revolution with it's self-styled leader, hip-hop upstart Raury.

Raury is a one-man revolution, or hopes to be. The 18-year-old only released his first single, ‘God’s Whisper’ in early 2014, but has since scored a place on the BBC’s competitive Sound of 2015 list and opened for OutKast’s homecoming festival. His multi-genre sound, clearly present in his first album Indigo Child, draws on everything from Bon Iver to KiD CuDi, weaving acoustic guitar within indie electronica and hip-hop. Indeed, a driving force behind his soaring popularity has been the Anti-Tour. Raury would play guerrilla gigs out the front of high profile concerts, stealing fans from more established artists. Here, it's his confidence and determination which has him convinced of not only eventual success, but that his music will transform the industry completely. This may just be the year Raury steps into the spotlight. 

When did you begin making music? What brought you into it?

I was three and at a very impressionable age, I would imitate everything that I saw. I imitated Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, and I even started singing my own little songs. I never really took it serious; it was just something I was doing. But I would consider that I was getting into my musicianship for real when I was around 11, and I finally got a guitar and haven’t put it down since. So I began writing my own songs when I was 14, and I’ve just been sharpening that craft ever since. I could say I’ve been a serious musician since I was 11.

You released Indigo Child last year. What were you trying to say with this record?

I was trying to say that my generation isn’t hopeless. I was trying to speak to my generation, and let them know that you are just like me and that you can accomplish something also. That’s why I included the arguments between my mum and I on the record, because that would probably happen to every kid today. I was trying to shed light on my generation in a very positive way because there’s enough negative material out here in the world. I’m not that kind of artist, I want to make stuff that makes people happy; I don’t want to make people sad and hate their life, I want to inspire people to become better versions of themselves. Not just ‘Indigo Children’, but anybody that hears the music. It’s a literal embodiment of my soul and who I am as a person. Not only did I tell my Mumma that I wanted to be a musician and not go to college when I was 15, but I also told her I wanted to be a revolutionary leader. Indigo Child was to spark the revolution that will continue.

What revolution is this?

The revolution of good music and amazing high frequency music, kind of at the top of the food chain, top of the industry. It literally needs to become what is the coolest, not like what’s cool, or what’s accepting, or what’s dope. It’s universally known that this type of music is the best music because it actually does something for your spirit, makes you feel good about yourself, rather than just being self-absorbed and self-glorifying music that is making people and kids like me hate ourselves whether we’re conscious of it or not. Like this stuff is planting the wrong seeds in our mind. That is the revolution, you know? It’s literally taking back good music and bringing it to the top. I definitely feel like that is happening. I’m just here to feed the fire.

Is this the reason why your music doesn’t feed any genre? It seems to try to encapsulate many.

That’s another aspect of the revolution. Due to all these other amazing artists, from ‘Ye to Cudi, from Michael Jackson to Bob Dylan; all these other amazing people demonstrated that artists like me can be accepted by the world. I don’t feel like I would have been able to come out in 2000 or the 90s, because the world wasn’t ready if they hadn’t heard these other amazing artists. So I feel like by me coming out, I’m going to open the door for millions more multi-genre artists to come out and be themselves and do what they want. They will stop worrying about what is profitable, or what is good business-wise, and just be themselves. That’s what’s going to keep this revolution going – music written for the soul, not music written for profit, not music written to play in the club for people to get drunk to because that’s what they think the best music is. It’s not this type of music that will be at the top, but more genuine music will be released just simply by me existing. That’s how I look at things.

Let’s get to touring. You created the Anti-Tour – will elements of these performances appear in your Sydney shows? What do you have planned?

The Anti-Tour is really tied to my brand, as far as being rebellious and revolutionary, and a part of it is what rock and roll is, you know? I’m not just a rapper or a hip-hop artist, but I’m also a rock star and all about rock and roll so this show will be a complete, absolutely flat-out rock show. It’s not just what you’re expecting to hear from the album, it’s also got aspects of the Anti-Tour. We’re definitely going to bring the rock and roll to the show. The whole thing about [the Anti-Tour] was we were doing that whole thing without permission; we had to run from the cops at the end of the thing so I don’t know if we can do that, but the fire will be brought.

You’ve been making music for a while. If you could go back in time and tell yourself something, what would it be?

Practice your guitar more. The more I expand and my own stuff grows, the better music I’ve started making. I would never have made ‘God’s Whisper’ or anything like that, had I not learnt to produce. I’ve been playing guitar for seven years, but I’m self-taught - there’s a million things I still don’t know. After touring and with a lot of the free time I’ve had, I’ve been practicing guitar a lot more and I’m a lot more familiar with my instrument and coming closer to terms of mastering it. Like, I should be at the level of Hendrix or like Slash, or even close. I can solo, I can shred off, but I’m not there yet. That’s the only thing I would tell myself, there’s not a thing I would regret.

Do you feel that your work can be misunderstood?

Definitely. Define confusion? Define anger? It’s the fact that I do so many different genres. There is power, so when you don’t know what something is, you tend to go against it just because it’s not familiar to you. Your knowledge or your power is not what you thought it was, and you just deny whatever it is. I feel a lot of people can’t just truly appreciate the music that I’m making. I feel like they want to make me one thing, but that will never happen.

Another thing, [there’s confusion] as far as how truly genuine and authentic our movement truly is. Our manager is just as young as me, he’s 22, and we did this on our own coming up here, so a lot of people may think that I’m some rich kid or something like that. Like they think I get people to write these songs for me, or that there’s no way an 18 year old boy could of written it, but I did. So there’s a lot of things people try to do to take away or discredit from what has happened. But I know that those are problems within them, and this never fazes me.

What do you have planned for the future?

We’re working on this next project and releasing one of the most classic albums, literally flipping not just hip hop upside down, but how music is looked at. I’ll be taking the world by the horns and showing them what type of artist I am, and what I’m here to do. It’s going to be quite a ride this year.

Raury is performing at Laneway Festival across Australia, playing at 4:25pm on the Future Classic Stage in Sydney. He will also headline at the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney on Monday, February 2nd.
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