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July 31, 2013

Win TWO pairs of free Blur Sunglasses !

We are launching a series of very cool new Blur giveaways - this month's giveaway is for not just one, but TWO pairs of free, extremely cool Blur sunglasses made by Iamkamty, a stylish online shop. 

To celebrate Blur’s first live performance in Hong Kong in May 2013, Hong Kong based designer Millie Chiu has created this set of hand-drawn Blur shades! These colorful plastic sunglasses have tiny holes on them. So not only can you to see through them, the tiny holes actually can help short-sighted or long-sighted vision by filtering out indirect light sources – the result being sharper vision! 

The winner will be able to win two pairs of the exclusive, one-off Blur sunglasses made by Millie. The design features the artwork of the 'Blur The Best Of' CD and comes in four colors, one on each eyepiece of the sunglasses. 

Seeing how Damon Albarn loves fan-made masks and milky-outfits on stage in the recent tour gigs, these glasses would make excellent eyewear for fans who want to stand out in future Blur concerts. 


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Iamkamty.com is an online shop based in Hong Kong. Millie would like to create fun and unimaginable things out of ordinary objects. She thought to herself, “what if sunglasses could be colorful and vibrant instead of plain black shades?” And so, these wacky hand-drawn shades are created!

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The shades are available in a wide range of cute, outrageous, vibrant designs, including Space Invaders, Pac Man, TV color bar and much more!

Check them out at her Etsy shop (iamkamty): https://www.etsy.com/shop/iamkamty . Like the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/iamkamty


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Millie created the Blur sunglasses especially to celebrate Blur: Live in Hong Kong on May 6th 2013. 

You can also see more of her work and buy any of the sunglasses from the Etsy shop if you can't wait to see if you have won the competition. 


Enter now in the Giveaways page.

Remember to tune in every month for the chance to win a fun new Blur item! 


July 26, 2013

Damon Albarn Jamie Hewlett: "We have a kind of monkey madness" (Vanity Fair)

The August 2013 edition of Vanity Fair magazine features an exclusive interview and photo-shoot with Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, both of whom talked about the relaunch of their opera 'Monkey Journey To The West' in Lincoln Centre, New York this July. 

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(Vanity Fair - Aug. 2013 (Click to enlarge. Scan by grahampls)

The production, created by Damon Albarn and his Gorillaz partner Jamie Hewlett, originally premiered at the Manchester International Festival in 2007. The new set of productions will be Monkey: Journey To The West's New York debut.

The duo had much to say about the opera and music, as quoted from Vanity Fair

“Like all that has folk resonance, something from its past has carried forward and been delivered in a new way,” says Albarn, who composed the score, which sets traditional Chinese instruments against a contemporary electronic backdrop. “The first song inspired my daughter to start learning Mandarin.” Albarn, who is finishing a solo record, co-produced R&B singer Bobby Womack’s 2012 comeback album, The Bravest Man in the Universe, and headlined the Coachella music festival, in Indio, California, in April with Blur, his own award-winning band. 


"We have a kind of monkey madness"
Jamie Hewlett on his relationship with Damon Albarn

Hewlett, who co-created the comic book Tank Girl in 1988 and won Britain’s Designer of the Year award in 2006 for his work on Gorillaz, created both Monkey’s animation and the fantastical costumes. “Suddenly you realize,” he recalls, “that all these costumes you designed have to be worn by somebody who has to leap 10 feet in the air, stand on somebody’s shoulders while he is singing, and do kung fu.”

Jamie has been busy promoting the opera for various media outlets, including conducting live Q&As on Monkey Journey To The West's official Facebook page. He was also recently interviewed by Inside Hook and Flavorwire.

Monkey: Journey to the West is showing at Lincoln Center through Sunday, July 28. Click here for the full timetable. Click HERE to visit their Facebook page and see the latest updates, pictures and rehearsal snapshots from the opera. 

It's monkey business all the way for the duo - but one question that lingers is when will Damon monkey-around and make a new Gorillaz album? Will Damon change his mind yet again? 

Visit THIS page to see more fantastic images of Jamie Hewlett. 


July 25, 2013

Blur- Splitting up was best thing we ever did

Blur bass player Alex James says that that best thing the band ever did was split up and that Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher are now best mates who smoke cigars together.

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Blur bass player Alex James says that that best thing the band ever did was split up and that Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher are now best mates who smoke cigars together.

Speaking ahead of Blur's gig at IMMA, Dublin on Thursday, August 1st with support from Bat for Lashes and The Strypes, James told Today FM's Ray D'Arcy about his new life as a cheesemaker and farmer.

"Blur came to an end in 2003 and at that point we'd been doing the same thing for 15 years and after that amount of time it does become cyclical," he said. "We needed to go off and do other things. 

"We've all worked with other people since then. I think splitting up was the best thing we ever did." 

During the interview, D'Arcy recalled having the old Blur vs Oasis argument with his friends "in Snaffles Nightclub in Kildare" and asked James who did he think eventually won The Battle of Britpop.

"It's funny because these days Damon and Noel are best mates," James said. "They go off and smoke cigars together. I think we realised we were all on the same side eventually."

 The 44-year-old father of five now lives on a farm in Berkshire and makes cheese. "People throw cheese at me when I'm on stage. Some musicians get underwear," he said.

"Ireland is a fantastic place for cheese. I was over there last year looking at Bries. "There are so many great Irish cheeses. Did you know Brie was invented in Ireland? The French monks took it back to Normandy. They stole it!"

Asked what was the most rock `n' roll thing he'd ever done, James said, "We sent a spaceship to Mars."

(Source)

Blur Tour 2013 - Full dates and rundown  HERE
Blur @ Coachella- video and image gallery HERE 

Blur confirmed for Mexico HERE
Blur Europe Tour News  HERE
Order the new Blur: Parklife (Live at Hyde Park CD / DVD) HERE

SUBSCRIBE NOW!

If you missed old news, visit the NEWS ARCHIVE to read about past news!

Remember to subscribe to RSS and "LIKE" BlurBalls on Facebook.


July 23, 2013

Blur live in Russia - Photo and Video Gallery 2013

On July 13th 2013, Blur took the Main Stage in Moscow, Russia for the legendary Afisha Picnic Festival. Afisha Picnic is a one day outdoor festival in the area of Kolomenskoye, a state-owned nature reserve and cultural site located near Moscow's city centre.

Attracting over 50,000 people per year, this is one of Blur's biggest gigs in their 2013 World Tour. Blur previously played in smaller venues across France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Spain and Portugal.

Drummer Dave Rowntree had been DJ-ing in Moscow's Projektor bar the night before the show. The other members of Blur were also there.

The highlight of the night was when Damon Albarn put on a fan-made paper mask of his own face during the song 'Country House", entertaining and pleasing the crowd . Damon also performed a segment of "Intermission" before singing the track "Under The Westway".

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Damon Albarn wearing a cut-out mask that he borrowed from a fan 
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Damon changed the lyrics for 'Under the Westway' from "watching comets" to "watching satellites"

The audience also played their part during the show. Whilst Blur performed the sixth track "Out Of Time", a few hundred fans waved signs that read"You're Our Love Song". There was also a firework display after the gig as the festival came to an end.

Photo Gallery : Blur live in Russia (Afisha Picnic 2013)

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Damon Albarn mask
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Credits: cobakapavlova, tanyapridchina, tanyapetrosyan, annie_phoenix, clonolivaw, annakhidesheli, pollyabnormal, shesgotspies, agrainel, shaplova

For more pictures, click HERE.

Video - Watch Blur live in Russia 2013










Setlist for Blur at Afisha Picnic, Moscow 2013 

 Theme From Retro
 Girls & Boys 
 Popscene 
 There's No Other Way 
 Beetlebum 
 Out Of Time 
 Trimm Trabb 
 Caramel 
 Coffee & TV 
 Tender 
 Country House 
 Parklife 
 End Of A Century 
 This Is A Low 

 Encore 
 Under The Westway 
 For Tomorrow (Visit To Primrose Hill Extended) 
 The Universal Song 2

Download the Audio

Missed the gig and want to catch up? The audio of the entire gig is available for download HERE (Credits to MrMagpie).

Don't forget to check out the Blur Tour Diary for more pictures and media from all the tour shows. Finally, if you want to check out what concert tickets are for sale in your local area, check out bigticketshop.co.uk to see what's going on around town.

Blur Tour 2013 - Full dates and rundown  HERE
Blur @ Coachella- video and image gallery HERE 

Blur confirmed for Mexico HERE
Blur Europe Tour News  HERE
Order the new Blur: Parklife (Live at Hyde Park CD / DVD) HERE

SUBSCRIBE NOW!

If you missed old news, visit the NEWS ARCHIVE to read about past news!

Remember to subscribe to RSS and "LIKE" BlurBalls on Facebook.


July 17, 2013

New Damon Albarn collaboration track for Deltron 3030

Hip hop supergroup Deltron 3030's new album 'Event II' will include an exclusive track featuring Damon Albarn. The group's second album will be released on October 1st 2013, and will include a track "What Is This Loneliness" which features Damon and singer Casual.

Deltron 3030 is an alternative group comprising of three members- producer Dan the Automator, rapper Del the Funky Homosapien and Kid Koala. The trio frequently collaborates with various musicians in records, similar to how virtual band Gorillaz combines musicians together for their songs.

Apart from Damon Albarn, other iconic musicians that will be featured include Mike Patton, the Lonely Island, Rage Against the Machine's Zack De La Rocha, Emily Wells, and Jamie Cullum. There are also renowned film actors included in the album: David Cross, Amber Tamblyn, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and chef David Chang.

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It's not a surprise; 'Event II' has been in production since 2004 so it seems that the group had plenty of time to scout out new collaborators. Featuring Damon Albarn is also an obvious choice, as the Blur frontman collaborated with Deltron 3030 for their first album in the track "Time Keeps  On Slipping". 

Albarn also worked closely with members of Deltron 3030 for Gorillaz. also worked Dan the Automator also produced Gorillaz's eponymous debut album. Del the Funky Homosapien collaborated with Gorillaz for two songs on their debut album - "Clint Eastwood" and "Rock the House"- both of which became chart-toppers and gained commercial success.


Deltron 3030: Event II -  Tracklist 
01 Stardate [ft. Joseph Gordon-Levitt]
02 The Return
03 Pay the Price
04 Nobody Can [ft. Aaron Bruno of AWOLNATION]
05 Lawnchair Quarterback Pt. 1 [ft. David Cross and Amber Tamblyn]
06 Melding of the Minds [ft. Zach De La Rocha]
07 The Agony [ft. Mary Elizabeth Winstead]
08 Back in the Day [ft. The Lonely Island]
09 Talent Supersedes [ft. Black Rob]
10 Look Across the Sky [ft. Mary Elizabeth Winstead]
11 The Future of Food [ft. David Chang]
12 My Only Love [ft. Emily Wells]
13 What Is This Loneliness [ft. Damon Albarn and Casual]
14 Lawnchair Quarterback Pt. 2 [ft. David Cross and Amber Tamblyn]
15 City Rising From the Ashes [background vocals by Mike Patton]
16 Do You Remember [ft. Jamie Cullum]



For more updates, don't forget to check out Deltron 3030's Facebook page.


July 15, 2013

Interview with Dylan Moore - on his new Blur book

England, Damon Albarn and the Art of Melancholy is a new Blur book which explores Damon Albarn’s musical career by detailing his various bands, projects, rivals, inspirations and influences, paralleling Albarn’s music with English sub-culture and current affairs.

This interesting book also traces Britain across time- Britpop nineties, English binge-drinking, the shrinking village green, fall of English seaside towns, explores London’s musical halls and all the aspects of the 'lost England' that seems to be at the heart of so many Albarn compositions.


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The book is available on Amazon (US) (UK) for the Kindle Store, Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle, iPad, iPhone and Android ($6.99 / £3.96)

We recently interviewed author Dylan Moore, who told us all about his writing process, how Britain influenced Blur’s music, travelling to Essex and faraway places to research, his excitement for a new record and devotion to all-things Albarn.

1) Why did you write the book ? 

Primarily because I am a huge fan of Damon Albarn's music, whether that's Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad and The Queen or any of his other projects. But also because I cannot believe that nobody else has written seriously about him! There are a few books about Blur, including the excellent one by Stuart Maconie, and one devoted to Damon, but mostly these are round-up type books that are more like extended articles in the music press.

There's nothing wrong with these types of books of course, but if you look at figures like Bob Dylan and David Bowie, or a band like The Beatles - and I rate Damon, and Blur at that stratospheric level - there are whole libraries of devoted scholarship, books that contextualise the music and treat the musicians in the same way that you might write about a poet or a novelist.

I think Damon Albarn's body of work not only stands up to that of any musician, but also documents certain aspects of Britain as well as any novel or artwork in the last quarter of a century. So naturally I wanted to be the first to get some real 'Albarn scholarship' out there; in ten years time, I think there'll be whole shelves of books about Damon.

2) What the book is about?

England Damon Albarn and the Art of Melancholy Dylan Moore, dylan moore interview, damon albarn book interview, blur book interview, new blur book, damon albarn english, author dylan moore, blur biography, The book explores Damon's life and work, with a particular focus on his relationship with England. I travelled to many of the places that have been important to him over the years: the village of Aldham, in Essex, where he grew up, which is much more rural than you might think, and Walton-on-the-Naze, and Colchester of course. 

Also Hallsands in Devon, which is really important: that's where the book starts. There he had the idea for the lyrics to 'This is a Low' and also for Gorillaz' 'Plastic Beach'. And there's a TGTB&TQ B-side called 'Hallsands Waltz', because that band started up at Damon's Devon retreat as well. So basically I use places to get under the skin of the songs. 

I'm writing about Damon, but also about England. Of course, there are chapters about Africa and America and China too, but what I argue is that everything comes back to Damon's love for England, which he himself has called 'irrational'.

3) What is your favourite Blur song and why?

Go for the jugular, why don't you! You know that's nigh on impossible! There are so many of course, but ultimately I don't think you can look past 'This is a Low', especially in the context of my book. It's got everything in terms of English melancholy it's so emotional and the best bit is Graham's solo towards the end.

4) Who's your top Blur member? 

Damon, obviously. Although Coxon is a genius too.

5) Tell us your favourite part of the book ? 

I'm not sure I have a favourite bit, although I found some bits harder to write than others. I would've loved to travel to Hong Kong and Mali, particularly, to take notes in the same way I did for the chapters closer to home.

I suppose the prologue and epilogue are both quite unique, as what I decided in the end was to structure the book as though it had all been written last summer, between July 7th when I went to see 'Dr Dee' at the ENO and the Hyde Park concert to close the Olympics. It allows the book to finish with Damon leaving the stage, a union flag under his arm, which is quite poetic.

6) Have you ever seen Blur live ?

Only about eight or nine times, including quite a lot of festival headline appearances. My biggest regret is not seeing them earlier. A few of my friends saw them at Mile End in 1995. I was only fifteen at the time and living in Mid Wales I wasn't allowed to go, so I had to listen to it on Radio 1. The first time I saw them was at V97 in Leeds, not long after 'Song 2' came out; I remember the front of the NME had the headline 'We're the Woo-Hoo Band Now'. 
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The saddest show was at Benicassim 2003, without Graham; they were brilliant, but it just wasn't right. The best shows were the last night at Hyde Park 2009 and at Reading, which I can't believe was ten years earlier, where I clasped hands with Damon during 'To the End'; I sent my friend a postcard just to tell her - ah, the days before mobiles!

7) What do you think of Damon's new album plans ?

Well, apart from the fact he's said it's 'folk-soul', for which I read 'Dr Dee meets Bobby Womack', I don't know too much about it. I'm glad he's finally putting a 'proper' solo record out, and hopefully it will be good for the book, with people finally recognising his individual genius. Having said that, I'm far more excited about the prospect of a new Blur album, which has kind of built into something like a mythical creature over the years.

8) Tell us- what makes your book special ? 

It's serious. In the best sense of the word. It treats Albarn as a true artist and gives him the respect he deserves, without fawning. And it's not just about Damon; it's about all sorts of things… seaside towns, music halls, village greens; all the aspects of the 'lost England' that seems to be at the heart of so many Albarn compositions.

9) Tell us about a special Blur memory

When 'Fool's Day' came out in April 2010 for Record Store Day, it coincided with my best friend's 30th birthday. We’re both massive Blur fans and kind of became friends through swapping taped Britpop albums. There were only a thousand copies made, and I decided it was the perfect present. I queued up outside Spillers Records, 'the oldest record shop in the world', which has now moved from its old location on a street called The Hayes in Cardiff, from 5 o'clock in the morning.

I was the first in the queue and there were two girls just behind me who both wanted the Blur single. We talked Blur for four hours waiting for the shop to open while the queue got longer and longer. About twenty minutes before nine, we were interviewed for local radio about what we were doing.

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When the doors opened, it was all over in a flash. I got the first Blur single and the girl behind me got the second; when the other girl asked she was told they'd sold out! I felt so sorry for her (she had to settle for The Beatles instead - ha!) but so happy I'd managed to get 'Fool's Day' for my friend. When I gave it to him and told him the story, he said there was no way he'd have done the same for me!

A funny little addition to the story was about a year later when I was out in a bar and a girl recognised me as the man who had beaten her to a Blur single! 

10) Did you face any difficulties writing the book ?

Well, there were a few obstacles, but I won't go into all of them! The main problem was the practicality of attempting to keep up with someone as busy as Damon! Just when I thought I'd managed to think about all his projects as a whole, he announced 'Rocketjuice and the Moon' and the Africa Express train, amongst others. But that was all part of the enjoyment.

And I was lucky enough to see the Africa Express gig in Cardiff with my now-girlfriend, so Damon Albarn continues to soundtrack my life in all kinds of ways! He played 'Apple Carts', 'On Melancholy Hill' and 'Tender', which is just a taste of the immense back catalogue he'll have at his disposal for these solo gigs he's promised. 

I live in Valencia now, so if he doesn't come to Spain, I'll have to sell enough books to fly back for that tour!

Read an extract:

This is something that concerns Albarn in all of his work. On ‘Blue Jeans’, he sings plaintively of his vague but general satisfaction with life as we are given an insight into his early days in London, buying the Dr Martens that were to become his trademark during that early Britpop period at the Saturday flea market on the Portobello Road.

This song captures not only the acoustic guitar and cracked-vocal melancholy that was to become an Albarn trademark, but a time in the singer’s life before the pressures of fame and its trappings and the speed of his own life began to take their toll on his own mental health.

Author Bio: Dylan Moore is a teacher, broadcaster, writer and editor for the Wales Arts Review. He also contributes to theartsdesk.com and had been featured on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Wales television. His work had appeared on The Daily Telegraph and New Welsh Review.

Got a question? You can get in touch with Dylan on twitter (@_DylanMoore)

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