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Bowie Week: For the Rebel Rebels.

As we launch our limited David Bowie Edition film into the world, Kate Hutchinson* gives her thoughts on Bowie, the legacy he’s left behind, and Bowie Week on Polaroid Radio.

*Kate Hutchinson is a journalist, broadcaster, DJ and creator of award-winning podcast The Last Bohemians. She lives and works in London. Find her track choices on Polaroid Radio’s Polychrome channel.

Every generation has their heroes. But David Bowie – he’s a hero to everyone. With each new wave of creatives comes a revitalised fascination with the pop culture chameleon and how he straddled worlds, whether it’s his avant-garde approach to fashion, his endlessly innovative music, or his gift for creating an iconic image. Whichever mediums he blurred together, or movements he started, the impact he had on culture – his Bowie-ness, if you will – was as sharp as a lightning bolt.

Like countless others, I always feel energised by how Bowie united sound and vision. As a journalist, broadcaster and DJ, I’m usually the one trying to make sense of people’s artistry, rather than making it myself, at cueing up one of their tunes on the decks. But I specifically remember feeling the full force of Bowie’s creativity while walking around the exhibition of his career at London’s V&A Museum, back in 2013. Seeing his life's work out on show, from the costumes (the Ziggy Stardust jumpsuits! The power suits!) to the set design to many a memorable Polaroid snap – it was so vibrant, so visionary and, even now, quite unlike anything else on the planet.

I think what I love most about Bowie, though, is how we are all still trying to make sense of that artistry, still looking to his past to illuminate the present. So it’s no wonder that Polaroid were inspired to create a limited edition film for the next generation of star-makers. After all, he continues to move a huge range of today’s multidisciplinary artists, from musicians and DJs to film-makers and LGBTQ+ community leaders and from writers and photographers to record collectors and activists. His rebel yell lives on and on.

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To celebrate the new David Bowie Edition film, Polaroid hosted Bowie Week, a special service taking place over seven days on Polaroid Radio. The broadcast featured songs that salute the Star Man, plus myself and other like minds from around the world talking about his influence on our lives. The NYC-based music photographer Shervin Lainez discusses how Bowie’s visual presentation was “just as memorable as any melody”, while German artist Ms Josephin commends his style that went beyond the binary. For Malaysia-born, Sydney-based musician Dyan Tai, Bowie helped them to “find the courage to express myself fearlessly and authentically as a queer musician.”

Giving curious minds a gateway to his rich catalogue, Polaroid Radio selected three distinct channels to showcase Bowie: Itchy Teeth, showcasing the outer limits of his oeuvre; Polychrome, dedicated to Bowie’s dance side; and Iris diving into his influence on hip-hop, r’n’b and the songs that sampled his music. They spotlight the diversity of his artistic output and redefine the best of Bowie – because, as I’ve found myself while going back through these ace selections, there’s always something new to discover and more dots to connect.

Bowie would have been 76 this year, though the effects of his Bowieness can be found everywhere in culture today. Read on for more about the creatives taking part in Polaroid Radio’s Bowie Week below.

Shervin Lainez

New York Photographer

Polaroid Radio Channel: Itchy Teeth

Shervin Lainez has spent the last 12 years photographing bands and singers from every possible genre, shooting modern day greats like Phoebe Bridgers, Billie Eilish, Japanese Breakfast and Tame Impala.

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Bowie’s influence on your art:

I’ve loved David Bowie my whole life. My earliest memory of David Bowie was seeing a live performance on TV with Annie Lennox and they were doing the song ‘Under Pressure.’ Even though I was just a kid I was immediately fascinated by him. How this man looked and sounded. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, kinda like seeing an alien.

For me, David Bowie was unique due to the fact that there were no rules. He would just mix pop, r’n’b, jazz, folk music and was also this androgynous shapeshifting performance artist. I think David Bowie‘s impact is so strong and lasting because for the first time, a musician’s visual presentation was just as memorable as any melody. The first time I saw Bowie, I was 21 and completely blown away by the scale and thoughtfulness of the show. It changed my perception of what was possible for how a musician can present themselves. Since it’s a big part of my job, it gives me this endless well to draw from.

Bowie song you should listen to:

Modern Love (1983, Let's Dance)

‘Modern Love’ was the first Bowie song I fell in love with. All the parts, all the highs and lows of it, the speaking intro at the beginning, the long solos at the end, it’s a great big bowl of David Bowie soup and I love it.

Chris Maradiaga

Multidisciplinary Artist

Polaroid Radio Channel: Iris

Chris Maradiaga is a 28-year old multidisciplinary artist currently living in Victoria, British Columbia.

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Bowie’s influence on your art:

The biggest influence Bowie had on me is the desire to be different and unique, and not just fit in and be another individual in the world. I want to stand out. I want to do everything I can to stand out. But also, be genuine, not forcefully stand out – to just be genuine with what I’m doing with my work, with my fashion, whatever it is. For fashion specifically, his outfits especially. In the Hunky Dory era, his outfits were incredible. What I wear today was definitely influenced by what he was wearing at the time. A more modern twist…but within my fashion, my style, with arts and culture, and being that genuine unique individual, his influence is there.

Bowie song you should listen to:

The Bewlay Brothers (1971, Hunky Dory)

The way he says “and we were gone” just leaves me floored every time. This album is, and will always be, exceptional. Not to mention, his fashion during this period has definitely been a source of inspiration for me.

Ms Josephin

Photographer

Polaroid Radio Channel: Itchy Teeth

Josephine Meng is a German artist and antique collector. Meng's work does not fit the conventional standard of photography, but she often uses captured images as a starting point. She currently resides between Berlin and Paris.

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Bowie’s influence on your art:

The impact he has had on music, arts and culture will never expire. His style was all at once theatrical, androgynous and hypersexual – and this was all a really revolutionary combination in a climate where gender was still understood as a strict binary and he was the only one out there questioning the gender norms.

Bowie song you should listen to:

Lady Grinning Soul (1973, Aladdin Sane)

It’s romantic and seductive – it makes me want to take off my clothes.

Dyan Tai

Musician

Polaroid Radio Channel: Polychrome

Self-described as the Asian empress of the gay streets of Sydney, Malaysian-born Dyan Tai has emerged from the stages of the local cabaret scene and now evolved into an electronic artist. Their music and captivating live shows bring together elements of Asiatic drag and traditional Asian instruments; intersected with synth heavy electronic pop and a sparkly, mirror coated keytar.

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Bowie’s influence on your art:

He made gender-bending, androgynous, gender-less people look sexy and brought it to the mainstream. I think Bowie significantly contributed to the freedom and liberation to play with gender and sexuality. For me as an artist who grew up in quite a conservative upbringing before moving to Australia, Bowie helped me find the courage to express myself fearlessly and authentically as a queer musician.

Bowie song you should listen to:

Don’t Let Me Down and Down (1993, Black Tie White Noise)

As a trilingual singer, I sing in English, Chinese and Bahasa Melayu. My mind was blown when I found out that Bowie sang half of this next song in Indonesian, which is similar to Bahasa Melayu that I grew up speaking in Malaysia. So, I had to pick this track!

JD Twitch (Optimo)

DJ & Music Producer

Polaroid Radio Channel: Polychrome

JD Twitch began his journey into music and DJing in 1987, just in time for the arrival of acid house and rave. He started two legendary Scottish clubs, Pure and Optimo, the latter a duo with Jonnie Wilkes that recently celebrated 25 years of global touring, parties and communitarian activism. He produces, remixes, promotes, presents radio shows and runs the Optimo Music label.

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Bowie’s influence on your art:

His impact on music, the arts and culture has been beyond compare, it’s massive. He continues to inspire people daily and will continue to be an icon of our times and future times. Personally, he’s been a great inspiration for my creativity with the idea that you’re never stuck in one place, you’re always moving forward, I think about that a lot. I try to listen to as much music as I can, to find things that make it exciting for me to move on in new directions and get out of my comfort zone.

Bowie song you should listen to:

John, I’m Only Dancing (Again) (1979, single)

Originally a 1972 single, Bowie reworked this track twice, this one being from the Young Americanssessions, where he incorporated funk and disco influences. It turns a fairly standard glam rock song into a dancefloor bomb! Bowie’s various unofficial remixes and edits that regularly get played at disco influenced clubs to this day.

Jenny Sayaka Nono

Musician, Radio DJ & Video Artist

Polaroid Radio Channel: Itchy Teeth

Jenny Sayaka Nono is an LA-based musician, DJ and video artist who grew up in Hawaii.

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Bowie’s influence on your art:

Going back to when I was obsessed with him as a teenager, I think he inadvertently taught just how… to be. His philosophy on life was really beautiful to me. His way with words and his profound wisdom. You can see it even when he was really young. There’s something about David Bowie where he just got it.

Bowie song you should listen to:

Right (1975, Young Americans)
One of my all-time favourite Bowie songs. This album didn't really stick out to me until I heard ‘Right’ This song is really sexy, from his Thin White Duke era.

Dustin Hanke

Model & Influencer

Polaroid Radio Channel: Itchy Teeth

Dustin is an influencer and model from Berlin known for his creative as well as daring looks and photos. Being one of the first male influencers in Germany to live out his homosexuality through fashion in an unexpected way, he became a source of inspiration to a young generation who look up to his free spirit and rebellious frame of mind.

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Bowie’s influence on your art:

Seeing him for the first time I will never forget, I was in shock, I was in awe. Seeing someone like him wearing heels, make-up and nail polish, it completely crushed me and I felt truly inspired and understood. I think he planted a seed for a new identity that we all needed, especially kids needed, because however crazy you may think it is, there’s a place for what you want to do and be who you want to be. Don’t go with the flow, just do whatever you think is right.

Chris Read

DJ, Producer & Record Collector

Polaroid Radio Channel: Iris

Chris Read is a London-based DJ, producer and lifelong collector of hip-hop, funk, soul, boogie, jazz and related beats. He has released six studio albums, 12 compilation albums and an extensive catalogue of singles and remixes for artists including Grammy Award-winning vocalists Bilal and Algebra Blessett.

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Bowie’s influence on your art:

I think Bowie has had a huge impact on arts, culture and music more generally. Listening to hip-hop from the late 80s, early 90s, and subsequently discovering some of the records that have been sampled by them, was one of the principal ways I came across Bowie’s music and realised its huge impact on other styles of music.

Song sampling Bowie you should listen to:

EPMD - It Wasn't Me It Was The Fame (1989)
This is the final track from EPMD’s sophomore album Unfinished Business and it contains a couple of samples. One is ‘People Make The World Go Round’ by The Stylistics and the other is David Bowie’s ‘Fame’, which features prominently on the hook.

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It speaks volumes that Bowie-ness is subtly different to each of us. For some of us, it’s the defiance and do-what-you-want-ness that resonates. For some, it’s the chameleonic, constantly re-inventive attitude. Whatever your Bowie-ness, why not get out there and capture it? We’ve got the perfect film. Color film for i-Type - David Bowie Edition is out now. For the Rebel Rebels.

Header Image:

© 2023 The David Bowie Archive ® Under license to Perryscope Productions, LLC/Epic Rights, LLC. Photo by Brian Ward.

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