Arts interviews

Erik Satie: Gonzales, the classical rap comic

By Paul Lester, June 13, 2008

He plays Erik Satie, hip-hop and does satire on stage between songs. No wonder he has identity issues

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You think I’m wild? You should see my mother

By Stephen Applebaum, June 6, 2008

In the swinging ’60s, Marianne Faithfull lived a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll, and almost ended up paying the ultimate price. But, as she reveals, she wasn’t the first wild child in her extraordinary Jewish family

Marianne Faithfull was raised as a Catholic, but the husky-voiced singer says she has her Jewish roots to thank for her acclaimed renditions of the songs of Bertholt Brecht and Kurt Weill. People were astounded when they first heard her perform their work, she recalls — which started her wondering why she had such an innate flair for their music.

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A musician's deep notes

By Paul Lester, June 6, 2008

Dan Kaufman has an unlikely success mixing rock music and the Holocaust

Dan Kaufman’s new album, Force Of Light, issued by American avant-garde composer John Zorn’s Tzadik label, is a pensive yet powerful response to the work of post-war poet and Romanian-Jewish Holocaust survivor Paul Celan.

The leader of the leftfield rock group Barbez, Kaufman uses to mesmerising effect extracts of Celan’s poetry, read by Scottish poet Fiona Templeton, and a variety of musical styles from experimental jazz and post-rock to Eastern European folk and classical.

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Enjoy musicals? Watch this man

By Benjamin Wolf, June 6, 2008

Alexander Bermange went abroad to get his break as a musical-theatre composer. But there are signs that he is going to be as big in the West End as he is in Frankfurt

The world of musicals — glamorous on the outside, competitive and demanding on the inside — is not always an easy place to be. To succeed there, you need passion, drive, luck and at least a modicum of talent. Alexander Bermange appears to have all these qualities. Born in 1976, he wrote his first musical, Nessie, in 1994, at the age of 17.

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The kosher cowboy

By Paul Lester, May 30, 2008

Kinky Friedman is a singing, writing, cigar-smoking Texan. Which doesn’t make him any less Jewish

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I'm happy to be mummy's boy

By Simon Round, May 30, 2008

William Sutcliffe is a novelist concerned to celebrate an important relationship

William Sutcliffe is not anticipating a call from the compilers of the Man Booker Prize shortlist for his new novel, Whatever Makes You Happy (Bloomsbury £10.99). “If you are writing about young people, you are disqualified from every literary prize,” Sutcliffe claims. “You are also disqualified if you are funny, use lots of dialogue, or write about contemporary Britain — everything I tend to do.”

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Taking Shatila to Cannes

By Stephen Applebaum, May 23, 2008

Ari Folman made his animated documentary about the Israeli army’s role in a massacre of Palestinians as a way of exorcising personal demons. Now the film could win him the top prize at Cannes.

If Israel’s Ari Folman wins the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival tomorrow for his harrowing animated documentary Waltz with Bashir, it will be the perfect end to a journey that he never dreamed he would take.

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The junkie rock star who was saved by the Torah

By Paul Lester, May 23, 2008

Depression and drugs made David Berman suicidal. That’s all over.

David Berman, published poet and singer-songwriter with American band Silver Jews, has just been reading the Torah. He does this every day for several hours, in between coming up with the country-inflected rock music and wry, confessional lyrics for his group, most recently for their sixth album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea.

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Painting by numbers, with a dash of Mr Bean

By Julia Weiner, May 23, 2008

Tal R paints using only seven colours — and sees the Rowan Atkinson character as a good analogy for art.

Tal R certainly set himself strict parameters when preparing work for his current London exhibition in London. Sixteen paintings are on show, all of them the same size (250 x 250cm), and all painted in the same fixed palette of seven colours. 

Tal R was born in Israel in 1967 but has lived most of his life in Denmark. “I was born during the Six-Day War in Tel Aviv,” he says.

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The baroness leading a grey-power rebellion

By Alex Kasriel, May 23, 2008

Julia Neuberger is fed up with the way society marginalises older people. It’s time they fought back, she tells Alex Kasriel

Julia Neuberger has a thing about loos. She wishes there were more public ones. Why? Because she feels that without them, old people are too scared to go out. 

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