Dolores Park

San Francisco July 2016

March 6, 2017

I tend to always bookend any trips to California with quality time in San Francisco, and the last time I visited the States was no exception. Back in July I was lucky enough to enjoy just over a week in the Bay before flying home to London, getting to see my family and friends and explore the city, as well as hustle a little…

I’ve written before about my love of Amtrak; the beatnik side of me just adores the opportunity for reflection and observation. There’s something remarkably soothing about the trip up to SF from LA, full of epic views and curious characters.

*Roadside Views*

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*Champagne on the Train. Amtrak in style*

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One of the biggest highlights of my last days in SF was getting to meet local legend Dan the Automator and interview him for Wax Poetics at the top of Dolores Park. It was my first time meeting Dan, and such an honour. My buddy Z came through with some very impressive recording equipment, and shooting by the Park’s ‘Gay Beach’ corner allowed an epic panorama of San Francisco as our backdrop. The wind was definitely working against us, which with my mane was a challenge for sure! But, it was so cool to hear Dan’s stories and insights, and I’m super happy with how the final video came out – shout out to the homie DJ Matman for the dope edit! After the shoot we got pizza and drinks at local favourite Pizzeria Delfina – so delicious and definitely worth a visit.

*Behind the scenes*

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Watch the interview below!

*Me and Dan*

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*The iconic and inspiring Women’s Building in the Mission*

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*My cousin’s very cute birthday cake*

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*Prince Paul spinning 45s at The Uptown in Oakland*

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Another highlight of my final sojourn in SF was catching Hieroglyphics play Stern Grove. Dan the Automator was DJing before, and managed to sneak me backstage so that I was able to hang with him and Hiero there. I enjoyed drinking copious amounts of high-grade sake, riding around on milk-float-esque carts, and meeting Del the Funkee Homosapien and Davey D for the first time.  Afterwards we got ice-cream and hit a dive bar for a pool tournament in the Sunset District. Very cool memories.

*Beautiful NorCal trees at Stern Grove. Such a cool hidden spot I had never been to before.*

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I couldn’t wait to hit up the newly reopened SFMoMA, I always love to spend a few hours there when in town. Such a treat. The Miranda July & Harrell Fletcher Learning to Love You More room was my favourite part this time.

*Reflections at the MoMA*

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*Embarcadero at night on 4th July*

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*Leaving Cali Bluez. Nothing quite like rounding off a long trip by gazing out at the runway, sipping on a glass of wine and reflecting on the time gone by.*

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*Living life in the window seat. Always.*

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Sitting in the Park … with Dan the Automator

January 4, 2017

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Back in the summer when I was bopping around California I had the honour of meeting Dan Nakamura, a.k.a. Dan the Automator, in his hometown of San Francisco. Dan is one of those producers who is behind such a varied array of great music, I’ve often felt as though I am constantly discovering that he has played a part in hit records – it was only in conversation with Dan that I learned he produced two albums for Kasabian (dudes from my hometown!).

I interviewed Dan for Wax Poetics at the top of Dolores Park on a beautiful and rather windy day, and chopped it up about the music he loved growing up, the Bay Area scene, working with artists like Kool Keith and Del the Funky Homosapien, porno music, and much, much more … Enjoy!

You can also check it out on Wax Poetics here!

Mega props to Zhubin Rahbar and Paul Keller for filming the interview, and to Matt ‘Matman’ Smith for painstakingly editing it to be so fresh and informative! :)

Back to the Bay

April 19, 2016

I have so much love for Northern California. Each time I come back here I am struck by the unique beauty of the landscape. Towering trees with the deepest green leaves, awkward hills, azure skies, and curious fog soothe the heart and mind like nothing else. I flew back here last week and so far have mostly been catching up with family and friends, and exploring the city a little…

~Me before takeoff~

Me before takeoff

~Golden Gate Bridge from the sky~

Golden Gate Bridge from the Sky

~Angel Island~

Angel Island

~Market Street~

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The weather took a beautiful turn the past few days, so it’s been all about parks. I hit up Golden Gate Park on Saturday, feeling super calm and happy just to be there, and then chilled out on Dolores Park on Sunday for a pretty different vibe. Last time I was in SF, the park was being completely dug up, so it was good to see it back in swing. Dolores Park is like London Fields in the summer, but it feels quirkier and more entertaining. You get intermittent whiffs of barbeques and joints, sounds of champagne corks popping, and endless overheard conversations relaying gossip and dissecting therapy sessions. I love it.

~Golden Gate Park~

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~Amoeba on Record Store Day ~

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~Wax Poetics looking super fresh inside Amoeba!~

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~Me in Dolores Park on a hot-hot day~

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I’ve been hitting up my favourite yoga studio in SF, Yoga To The People , at 16th St & Mission. It’s on the fifth floor and has such great views of the city. It’s also all donation-based, so not super expensive like some spots, which, seems to be much more in line with the spirit of yoga to me.

I also discovered a new vintage shop called Wallflower on Valencia that I love and recommend checking out. It has a great selection of well curated seventies clothes and furnishings. Fly!

~Wallflower~

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I caught the Dam Funk show at 1015 Folsom on Friday which was tons of fun. It was my first time seeing The Whooligan from Soulection play, and he totally rocked the basement room.

~Dam Funk going in~

 ~Me about to head to the club~

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For an interview that was due to take place last week (yet to be re-scheduled, I’ll announce it once it happens ;) ), I spent some time researching Bay Area funk bands, so have been listening to Graham Central Station on repeat since. Right now this is my jam:

I’ve also been listening to a ton of G-Funk since I finally got around to watching Straight Outta Compton on the plane. I love the scene where they play out the release of Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline.” I didn’t rush to see it when it came out because I felt weird when I first saw the trailer (something about actors playing people who are still alive), but now definitely recommend watching it! Mega props to F. Gary Gray! Hip-hop nerd fact: Gray directed a ton of great hip-hop music videos before feature films like Friday, including the Masta Ace video for “Saturday Nite Live.” Shout out to my DV crew!

While wandering about I’ve been thinking about the many charms of San Francisco; how there are so many epochs to feel nostalgic for. One walk through the city can evoke so many different moods and feelings: you get a view across the water to Marin County and want to be attending a seventies cocktail party like something out of Play It Again Sam, or walk past a smoke shop to hear E40 playing and want to be at a Mac Dre party in Oakland, or you can walk around Haight Ashbury (just look past all the touristy trash) and wonder what it really was like to be a freewheeling Grateful Dead head back in the day. It’s like the Digital Underground song “Want It All” – which is about the wanting, not the having. Cities like this stimulate your imagination and trigger so many desires. But, of course, you can’t ‘have it all’ in the sense of living different lives simultaneously.

To this predicament I see three answers.

The first is summed up towards the end of Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog, where Ghost Dog states that it is impossible to return to the spirit of an age, and therefore we must embrace the present time’s spirit.

The other two thoughts are from my recent time in India:

If you believe in reincarnation, then all these different lives are either ones you have already lived or ones that are to come.

Or, if you contemplate how we already have everything in the universe within ourselves, any longings or desires can dissipate or transform into a truer feeling of peace. All the ideas, images, concepts etc, exist within your mind. Anything you can dream is already within you. Pretty dope huh?

~ Wisdom from Dog Eared Books in The Mission ~

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