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A Chat with Pauline Black of The Selecter

We caught up with Pauline Black, frontwoman of The Selecter, to talk inspirations, icons and what's up next for the band. Following a stand-out performance at this year's Coachella festival, the band are heading to America's East Coast this September for a series of shows. 

Pauline Black The Selecter

What are The Selecter working on at the moment?

We’re about to shoot a video for our single Secret Love, which we’ll release online. Hopefully we’ll get that done before we head out to America, and we’ll have it in time for when we go on tour with Public Image Limited in October, which we’re really excited about.

John Lydon has been aware of us for a while - a long time ago we were playing the Palais with The Specials, John Cooper Clarke and the Modettes, and in the audience that night I just saw John hanging around at the bar, looking a bit shifty. He was known as Johnny Rotten back then, and I’ve always liked him and the stance that he has. 

Many people refer to you as the ‘Original Rude Girl’ – how would you describe your style?

People say that, but in truth, the idea of a ‘Rude Girl’ didn’t exist – I invented her! There were no ‘Rude Girls’ in that sense. There were Rude Boys, and I just thought to myself; you can either stand onstage and do the whole girl thing, or just get down there and wear some smart trousers, a good little suit and a hat. I mean a hat solves a multitude of problems – you never have a bad hair day for a start – and my style of dress just came down to that. I’d seen films such as The Harder They Come, and I had the sense of what a Rude Boy looked like, but it was just organic really – and a trip to an Oxfam shop!

And for you, who is the ultimate Rude Boy?

For me, the one and only Rude Boy has got to be Neville Staple of The Specials. I used to stand at the side of the stage when we were on the 2-tone Tour, and just watch Neville do Monkey Man standing on top of a huge stack of PAs , making monkey noises to a crowd of skinheads.  I mean, that takes bottle, and he has my ultimate respect for doing that.

Of all the songs that you’ve written and played, is there one that you most enjoy performing live?

Probably the last single we did! I mean, always, the audience wants to hear the hits. That’s what they pay good money to come and see, but I credit our audiences with more intelligence than that. They don’t just want to see us play the same songs time and time again – you can go on YouTube for that! I still feel we have to prove our worth as a band, and come up with new stuff.  If people don’t like, it, they don’t like it – they vote with their feet.

How was it performing at Coachella festival earlier this year?

It was just fantastic – I mean, in some ways we were completely amazed to have been asked to do it! I think apart from Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, we were the only Ska band out there doing it. And a lot of people were obviously at the festival to see the headliners – the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blur, etc – and a lot of people there probably weren’t even born when we were around, so were coming out of curiosity. People come along to have a look, and to see what you do, and I think they got a bit of a shock!  For the first weekend we played it fairly safe and gave people the Too Much Pressure album, but for the second weekend, when we came back after having been on tour up the West Coast doing new material and it doing equally as well, we thought we’d try it out at Coachella. So we bit the bullet and did that, and it went down a storm. If anything, it was actually better than the first week! So for our contemporaries who maybe want to stick to what they’re known for, and do the heritage thing – I just say be brave, just do it. What’s not to like? And it proves your worth as a band.

If you were asked to curate a festival, which three artists would headline?

I’d have to say Bob Marley, Billie Holliday and oh, I just think it would have to be The Supremes – they were poppy to the extreme but just so wonderful.

You were a contributor to our Don Letts Subculture Films, but what would you say your personal connection to Fred Perry is?

Well I’ve been wearing Fred Perry since 1979, and certainly in the early days, a lot of us wore it on stage. I see it as a symbol of youth, so now, everyone who comes to see us is wearing Fred Perry. I’ve known Don Letts a long time, and it was great he did that series of films. Fred Perry’s are really comfortable, and I think women can really rock them as well as men.

In New York on the 20th September? Win tickets to see The Selecter live at the Gramercy Theatre in our competition - enter here.

D.C. Subcultures of the 1980s

Washington D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art has recently opened a new exhibition, looking at the visual culture created by local subcultural groups during the 1980s. Aside from its obvious significance as America’s capital city, D.C. has a vibrant musical history, acting as the birthplace for the ‘Go-Go’ funk movement pioneered by the likes of Chuck Brown, as well as a world-renowned punk and hardcore scene.

Various Hardcore 7" records, 1980s. Photo by Aaron Farley. Collection of Roger Gastman.

Various Hardcore 7" records, 1980s. Photo by Aaron Farley. Collection of Roger Gastman.

Pump Me Up features photos, flyers, posters, records, stage clothes, instruments and video footage all made between 1980 and 1992, effectively bringing the era back to life within the gallery space. Alongside D.C's emerging music scenes came the birth of a stripped-down street art movement. The exhibition features sections devoted to some of the area’s most iconic graffiti art, as well as concert posters made by the Baltimore-based Globe printing press.

Go-go graffiti by GO-GO SHORTY, c. 1985. Photo by EON.

Go-go graffiti by GO-GO SHORTY, c. 1985. Photo by EON.

In addition to the exhibition comes the release of a 320-page book of the same name, complete with foreword by Sarah Newman, curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran. A special 90 minute documentary will also be released, looking at the life of local graffiti legend Cool ‘Disco’ Dan. Narrated by former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins, the film includes interviews with Chuck brown, civil rights advocate Walter Fauntroy and several prolific graffiti artists.

Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s will be held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art from February 23rd – April 7th, 2013.

Trintignant at the New York Film Forum

New York's Film Forum independent cinema has curated a special two week programme, paying tribute to the films of actor Jean-Louis Trintignant. The showcase features nineteen examples from the actor's expansive body of work, including his performance opposite Brigitte Bardot in Roger Vadim's 1956 classic: And God Created Woman.

And God Created Woman - Roger Vadim, 1956

Confidentially Yours - Francois Truffaut, 1983

Though Trintignant's early roles often saw him cast as the romantic lead, his on-screen persona has since been defined by his performances as cool, detached assassins. The actor's thoughtful and enigmatic characterisations made him popular with acclaimed French New Wave directors such as Francois Truffaut and Claude Chabrol, as well as a starring role in Italian master Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist (1971). The two-week season culminates with the opening of Trintignant's latest film, the Palme d'Or winning Amour by Michael Haneke.

The Film Forum's 'Trintignant' season is on now, until December 20th 2012. You can find more information HERE

www.filmforum.org