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Day #146/365: Glimpses of Albion in the overgrowth

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Trails and Influences: Electronic Ether. Case #19/52.

Now, Hollyoaks.

Wait before you run for the hills, hear me out.

A couple of years ago there was a trailer running for the British television youth orientated soap opera Hollyoaks, for an episode I think called Savage Garden.

I’ve never actually seen Holly Oaks. I suspect I’m not it’s intended demographic or advertisers target audience (!) but whenever this promo would come on it would make me smile and cheer me up.

It’s basically a sort of high street take on some of the visual language, themes and tropes of folklore via the likes of The Wickerman and Kill List: a glimpse of Albion in the cultural overgrowth, a step through the gates into the secret garden (with spangly hotpants as your attire).

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And yes it’s a simulacra of suck folklore inspired culture but still one I seemed to enjoy: if I think about that I soon wander down thought processes and pathways where I start to consider the notions of authenticity, what that actually means, why we (including myself) place such a high value on authenticity; it’s such an elusive, intangible thing but at the same time often seems very apparent when it’s there and when it’s not.

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For some reason this promotional video blurs those lines a touch for me. I find it joyous, ridiculous, a copy and created with some sense of love or passion for its source material, even if that is but a flickering, passing moment of interest.

All stories are created or summoned forth from imagination at some point, even the most precious folkloric tales probably originally stumbled out of the mind/s of individuals but somewhere along the line they have become authentic.

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The Wickerman, say: this was created with a pile of cash by the monied side of the culture business as a commercial project, the music was created by a band put together for this purpose; its authentic roots could be considered to be only just venturing through the topsoil but it has become an authentic totem of a particular kind of otherly Albion and folklore.

Hmmm, curiouser and curiouser said Alice.

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Musically the trailer is accompanied by Stealing Sheep’s Shut Eye, which is a lovely catchy sort of psych-folk indie-pop song. I don’t know all that much about the band but they remind me in a way of a more youthful, British Coco Rosie.

I suppose in part my debate around authenticity is maybe a generational thing: I grew up in a time when to have your music used in an advert was considered just cause to be taken off the artistic roll-call for good (to paraphrase Bill Hicks). Today, that doesn’t seem to be such a consideration. Possibly, mine and similar generations were more than a touch didactic, my way or the highway about such things, a bit up our own rears for a bit too long (to paraphrase Stewart Lee).

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I expect some part of me is still with Bill Hicks on this, it’s quite deeply ingrained but I’m also more accepting of the realities of life, the greys rather than the black and whites of beliefs and actions and the effect that Mother Hubbard-ed cupboards can have as I’ve become older.

I guess I still have some sense of “selling out” but it’s hard to put into words what that really means. Even back in the day, it was okay(ish) to sell your music/culture as part of a commercial transaction whereby larger corporations were one way or another involved in the production, releasing, promotion, selling and/or distribution of your work (although often disguised behind all kinds of smoke and mirrors). It was a world of curiously arbitary standards where you had to tread carefully or you might lose your “the real thing” tag.

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Of course, people didn’t turn up on my/subcultures doorstep with a suitcase of cash and a “sign here and this is all yours and your works is ours to use” contract so much back in those days; what could be considered not so mainstream culture didn’t seem to be so visible, interesting or acceptable to the mainstream and the accompanying cheque books, so those somewhat purist beliefs weren’t thoroughly tested. Or maybe what I’ve been drawn to/worked amongst has always been a little off the beaten track, a little too “from the wild woods” (see Day #40/365) in one way or another.

In the meantime, I still enjoy this trailer. It’s a guilty pleasure, yes but a pleasure nonetheless. I’ve just watched it again and it still makes me smile. As I say earlier it’s a glimpse, a glint of Albion in the overgrowth.

View the trailer here. Visit Stealing Sheep here.

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