Talking Music with Alec Benjamin


  LA based singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin is a self-described narrator. Strongly influenced by artists such as Eminem, Paul Simon, and Citizen Cope, Alec is a storyteller, weaving his own experiences and those of the people around him into his music. His penchant for story telling through cinematic, lo-fi pop saw him signed to a record label at just eighteen years of age. And while Alec enjoys over 268,000 YouTube subscribers, a legion of fans and new opportunities in the pipeline, his career so far hasn’t been all smooth sailing. The day after handing in his first album, Alec was dropped… Continue Reading

Flora, Fauna and Challenging History – Bangarra’s Dark Emu


  Following up a critically acclaimed show that has enjoyed a sell-out season is always going to be tricky, but for Bangarra, Australia’s indigenous performing arts company, story telling is in the blood and artistic director Stephen Page has seemingly no shortage of inspiration. After exploring the story of Woollarawarre Bennelong, a senior man of the Eora, in Bennelong last year, Bangarra’s new work Dark Emu moves away from narrative and instead delves deep into the academic. Inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s book of the same name, Dark Emu challenges the hunter-gatherer tag that has been applied to Australia’s first peoples… Continue Reading

Designer Profile – Bird Skin


  ‘With the ability to transcend, birds do not allow borders to dictate their travels; they identify themselves by the feathers they carry.’   This statement perfectly encapsulates Bird Skin, a label founded and run by designer duo, Luke and Ali. Their textured, colourful pieces speak of far flung places and of lives well lived. We caught up with the pair to find out more about the design process, winning awards, and addressing the realities of the fashion industry.   Leiden: How did Bird Skin come to be? Luke: Bird Skin was initially a much-needed outlet for two creatively frustrated… Continue Reading

Bare Yoga Canberra – Nude Yoga and Empowerment


  Yoga sure has been bastardised over the past few years hasn’t it? Not only can you downward dog with dogs, you can enjoy shavasana with a kitten, tree pose while holding beer or lizard lunge with goats. At first glance you would think that Bare Yoga, a new naked yoga and body empowerment workshop coming to Canberra on Saturday 4 August, is also trading on gimmick but you would be dead wrong. The duo behind this initiative, Joelle Blake of The Whole Mama and yogi Sally O’Donnell, aren’t using nudity to draw punters, but are instead embracing it as… Continue Reading

In Conversation: Musician Shoeb Ahmad and designer Adam J Bragg


  For Shoeb Ahmad, musical experiences have always been tied up with how they’re visualized. On the eve of a new creative project — her latest album quiver, and the singles that precede it — she turned to long-time collaborator: designer Adam J Bragg, to help shape the visual identity of the record. Now that the album is out in the world, the pair caught up to chat about everything from their shared musical lineage to the times they’d drink coffee together while Ahmad spent days off with her son.   Shoeb: Adam J Bragg and I have been collaborating for the… Continue Reading

In Conversation with Eloise Harpas: Dance, Body Image and Making it in the U.S


  Eloise Harpas is a twenty-one-year-old professional dancer who has just returned home from the U.S. after a three-month scholarship at the Broadway Dance Centre in New York where she was awarded the ‘Outstanding Student Award’: the only Australian on a three-month scholarship to win it. After jumping on a plane with the intention of completing the three-month course in New York and the goal of being noticed within the U.S industry she successfully made connections in the Big Apple. Eager to push herself further, she extended her trip to Los Angeles to see what she could achieve in the… Continue Reading

Love, Shakespeare and Theatre: An Interview with Ray Chong Nee


  Let’s do a little exercise together shall we? Close your eyes, take a deep breath and clear your mind. Now think of a famous couple. Just go with the first thing that pops into your head. Now open your eyes and keep reading.   I’m guessing you probably thought of Kim and Kanye. Or Beyonce and Jay Z. Or perhaps, like Leiden’s copy editor Jesse Petrie whom I just made participate in this exercise, you might even have thought of Bert and Ernie. But let’s take it back a little further in history. Back to the beginnings of the… Continue Reading

Talking Music, Art, and Life with Grouplove


  Talking to Andrew Wessen, guitarist and vocalist from American indie-folk pop-rainbow band Grouplove, is like talking to an old friend. It doesn’t feel like a phone interview between an amateur music journalist and a highly successful musician. It feels like a fun chat, we’re laughing and reminiscing. After we joke about Wessen’s inability to say ‘Melbourne’ in an Australian accent, I ask him what he’s been enjoying about Grouplove’s February tour through our east coast. ‘We’re in a hot streak right now. We’re playing new music, and it’s been fun because, having three records out, you get to pull… Continue Reading