Listened Better In Blak: Thelma Plum transforms trauma into triumph from triple j

Across the board, it’s a drastic step-up from 2014’s Monsters EP and the folksy strumming she uploaded to Unearthed back in 2012. But it isn’t a complete departure, it’s an evolution, you can hear traces of her earlier work in the songs that deal, like those releases, with love that’s not gone right.

This is an interesting album. Produced by Alex Burnett, it has the hooks and smooth production that drags you in. Once there though it challenges the listener. As an album, Better in Blak asks questions through song that left me thinking.

For something different, here is Plum covering Bruce Springsteen’s Dancer in the Dark:

Place between Sarah Blasko and Maggie Rogers.


Thelma Plum ‘Better In Blak’ Interview: No Retreat, No Surrender

With that in mind, one can view Better in Blak through the framework of it being Plum having open conversations about — and with — her younger self. A song like ‘Homecoming Queen’ details her ingrained body image issues, never feeling truly beautiful due to not seeing herself in any women that frequented the pages of her magazines.

Better in Blak is an album about growth and growing up as it is self-acceptance and self-love.

If Better in Blak is reflective of anything, though, it’s the fact that they won’t win. They can’t win — not while Plum is still fighting for survival on the frontlines, making a stand and living well as the best revenge. She hopes that this is an album that is seen, heard and felt — by those that support her, by those that don’t and by those that might find solace in what Plum sings about.

Thelma Plum – ‘Better In Blak’ – Music Feeds

Thelma Plum has much to say, and complex feelings to articulate, on Better In Blak. Crucially, she’s amplifying her socio-political voice. Plum consistently keeps it raw – her stance ‘no bull’. Regardless, whether her songs are critical or confessional, she conveys, if not levity, then wry humour.

Bookmarked People don’t change (Seth's Blog)

The hard part, then, isn’t the changing it.

It’s the wanting it.

I was recently told to be mindful of the phases that people are in when adjusting to change. The focus was on Tuckman’s stages of group development. The problem though, as Seth Godin explains, is that this overlooks whether people actually want to change. Dave Cormier captures this by arguing that the first principle of learning is care.
Bookmarked Counterculture, consumerism and the far right (Radio National)

Countercultural movements, like Occupy Wall Street, are meant to be future-focussed – revolutionary even. So, why do they often fade into commercialism? Are they simply a function of consumer capitalism? If so, what future do they have? And must they always be progressive?

Antony Funnell leads an inquiry into counterculture. Exploring what it might mean today, it’s relationship with capitalism, and whether there can be a counterculture from the right. One of the interesting points was that our response to the big five will be at the heart of the next countercultural response. This had me wondering whether the movements such as the #IndieWeb and Domain of One’s Own are best appreciated as countercultural movements? If so, what implication does this have long term?

Also posted on IndieNews

Bookmarked In the studio with Rick Rubin (The Economist)

While it is certainly true that Mr Rubin’s approach can reap rewards, the series ignores the criticisms that have been levelled at him in the past—particularly that he masters recordings too loudly and that he can sometimes be detached. Morgan Neville and Jeff Malmberg, the directors, seem to be more interested in revering Mr Rubin than interrogating his method. Though the viewer sees Mr Rubin at work, the documentary’s emphasis is on the effect of his presence on artists as they work through the trials, tribulations and joys of the music-making process. His particular creative vision remains elusive, but perhaps that is the point. “Music is a soundtrack to the unseen world,” Mr Rubin reflects, “a search for magic.”

The Shangri-La documentary sounds like it builds on what was discussed in the documentary Soundbreaking. I am intrigued by producers like Rubin and Antonoff whose approach seems to be as much about person as it is about the sound.
Bookmarked This Haunting Animation Maps the Journeys of 15,790 Slave Ships in Two Minutes (Slate Magazine)

Usually, when we say “American slavery” or the “American slave trade,” we mean the American colonies or, later, the United States. But as we discussed …

This is a fascinating representation over time, with little black dots continually skimming across the Atlantic Ocean. It made me think how many different industries were associated and dependant on the trade of slaves.
Replied to Digitally Literate #207 by wiobyrne (

After watching the documentary and reviewing the stories I shared…are you ready to delete your Facebook account?

Probably not. As we’ve regularly discussed in this newsletter, technology regularly offers us reasons to stop using their products, apps, and services. Yet…we stick around for some reason.

If you’re not going to delete your account…take some time and give it a good cleanse, or refresh.

Download your information from your settings. To download your information:

  1. Click at the top right of any Facebook page and select Settings
  2. Click Download a copy of your Facebook data at the bottom of General Account Settings
  3. Click Start My Archive

After that, test out two of the options shared in the post above (Facebook Timeline Cleaner and F___book Post Manager), to clean out your data.

I’m still deciding whether or not it is time to delete my Facebook account. I have been in the process of scaling back what the social network knows about me. I’ve been downloading and deleting all of my photos from the service. I’ve also refreshed my privacy settings as well. I’ll test out the tools above…and a total purge may soon be in my future.

I think that what frustrates me the most about ‘leaving’ Facebook is the ability to have a working archive. I love what Jonathan Lacour has done. Sadly, I downloaded and deleted my data before the archive become more usable.
Replied to Fiona Hardy on Instagram: “Pals. PALS. IT’S HERE, IN MY HANDS. Four years of work and love and an extensive cast of helpers and rereading the same jokes ten thousand…” (Instagram)

44 Likes, 9 Comments – Fiona Hardy (@readwatchshoot) on Instagram: “Pals. PALS. IT’S HERE, IN MY HANDS. Four years of work and love and an extensive cast of helpers…”

Huge congratulations Fiona
Bookmarked What will happen when machines write songs just as well as your favorite musician? (Mother Jones)

On the upside, the rise of AI tools could spur entirely new genres. Fresh music technologies often do. The electric guitar gave us rock, the synth helped create new wave, electronic drum machines and samplers catalyzed the growth of hip-hop. Auto-Tune was a dirty little secret of the record industry, a way to clean up bad singing performances, until artists like Cher and T-Pain used it to craft entirely new, wild vocal styles. The next great trend in music could be sparked by an artist who takes the AI capabilities and runs with them. “Someone can make their own and really develop an identity of, I’m the person who knows how to use this,” says Magenta project engineer Adam Roberts. “A violin­—this was technology that when you give it to Mozart, he goes, ‘Look what I can do with this piece of technology!’” exclaims Cohen, the Orchard co-founder. “If Mozart was a teenager in 2019, what would he do with AI?”

Clive Thompson looks at the marriage of music and machine learning to create tracks on demand. He discusses some of the possibilities, such as generating hours of ambient music on the fly or creating quick and easy soundtracks. It is interesting to think about this alongside software music and the innovation driven by broken machines.
Bookmarked Reading Lessons (Longreads)

You never stop learning how to read — probably because you also never stop forgetting how to read.

In an extract from How We Read, Irina Dumitrescu reflects on her experiences with reading overtime. She discusses university, poetry, drama and the challenges of reading fiction in a busy life. Personally, I have taken to listening to books of late, however I found myself lost between the different voices in the text. It occurred to me that I probably wasn’t reading, well at least not in a deep manner.


University, I realized, was as much about learning to read as it was about actually reading things.

Poetry, the great romance of my pubescent years, feels even more distant, requiring focus and receptivity I can rarely muster. Sometimes I wonder if the young read novels and poems because they are the only ones who can.

Replied to VHStival at Video Vortex: It’s Happening! (bavatuesdays)

Yesterday I locked into for a trip back to beautiful to Raleigh, North Carolina to attend the 3-day film festival at their local Alamo Drafthouse’s VHStival. I was trying to slow down the travel, but when I saw the insane program (Basketcase (1982), Toxic Avenger (1984), TerrorVision (1986) and Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986)!) it was impossible not to commit. These folks rule the VHS b-movie programming school. In fact, I bought tickets for these four movies before posting this in fear any publicity may mean no space left for me

I vaguely remember the Toxic Crusaders cartoon growing up, however I never knew there was a film version:

I cannot believe this even made it to a children’s show. Also, as someone who was a cleaner in a past life, I do not think that it is a very fair representation.

Liked The Builder’s Remorse (

This is the builder’s remorse. Not that you invented a thing, not that the consequences were unforeseen. It’s that you gave the thing to a power structure where things were overwhelmingly likely to end in ruin. You gave the power to people who don’t care about what you claim to care about. And that problem, because of the nature and structure of money and power, is extremely hard to avoid.

Replied to

Thank you for the tip-off, got myself some great reads:

Replied to “Thinking about your life journey, who are the people who have inspired you?” (

So, when asked this question about ‘who are the people who have inspired you?’, I decided not to list those people (or name drop) but to describe the characteristics of those who inspire me and who I aspire to be.

  • Successful without sacrificing integrity
  • Place people before profit
  • Generous with their time
  • Build relationships & connections (established & new)
  • Listen to understand, not to respond.
  • It’s not always about what you can do for them.
  • Genuine & Authentic. How they act in public is who they are.
This is such a nice reflection. It has me wondering what characteristics would make up my list and how I myself might stack up against all of this.
Liked Education is not a field for mediocre hopes and mediocre dreams (Sean Michael Morris)

More concretely, I don’t think about rubrics, for example, as they relate to teaching, I think about them as they do or do not make a difference in the world, or do or do not support students in making a difference in their world. If I’m asked why I don’t like rubrics, I might answer that rubrics not only provide a false promise of equity and fairness, but they also pinion the relationship between a student and their teacher, and a student and their learning.

But the real trouble with rubrics is that rubrics are a red herring, a symptom but not the underlying problem. Aspirin for our headache. As a way to navigate the system and process of education we’ve adopted culturally, rubrics can be useful. But they placate us into thinking that the model of learning and teaching we enact is: first, successful, and second, the only model.