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Regulars / Friday Mixtape

Friday Mixtape: Nina Manandhar’s London soundtrack

Photographer and cultural curator Nina Manandhar’s projects consistently champion authenticity, whether it be through documenting subcultures or more recently photographing Mexico’s newspaper sellers.

Her eye and aptitude for understanding personality and the pockets of cities that individuals settle within makes her the ideal curator of Our Streets, a late event by the Museum of London, a programme of music videos and short films curated for City Now City Future which launches tonight (19 May 2017). The programme is a “year-long season of exhibitions, creative combinations, large-scale public events, talks and debates which will explore the challenges, initiative, and innovations taking place within the city,” explains Nina.

Nina’s contribution features a new project, Music Video Tour Bus “a journey through London via iconic music videos set in the city,” she tells It’s Nice That. “From Skepta to Sl2, Blur to Bowie, the selection will explore how artists from across genres and generations have used the city streets as the backdrop to their audio visuals to make a cultural stamp.”

In this week’s Friday Mixtape Nina expands on the videos chosen for the project and the songs that resonate and will always remind her of London.

Why have you chosen these songs and videos?

There are so many great videos set in London, this is just a really small sample all by British artists from the last 40 years. I tried to pick videos with the most ‘touristy’, well-known, public London spots, rather than more local areas, so it mimics one of those London Tour Buses you can actually go on. For example, you’ve got Sade in London Bridge, Dizzee in Tower Bridge and Blur in Trafalgar Square.

For the artists who made the videos, I imagine there was something really powerful about using these landmarks and monuments as their backdrops, it must have felt like really putting yourself on the map of London history. They have really owned the streets, taken up public space, been seen and heard.

I love the feeling I get when I watch and listen to F.E.A.R by Ian Brown, it’s such a simple concept for a video, but there is feeling that you can do anything. Same with Skepta’s Shutdown, it’s sort of angry but optimistic.

Weekender by Flowered Up (Dir. W.I.Z) is half music video, half short film, the full edit is 18 minutes of epic that everyone who’s been out and partied in London can relate to in one way or another.

How did you begin the process of making Music Video Tour Bus?

I was asked by the Museum of London to curate a series of films and videos which respond to the different spaces in the museum for their City Now, City Future programme. I wanted the films and videos I chose to reflect how youth music cultures have made their mark on the city streets. For me, music videos are the best examples of this.

I’ve had to get in touch with artists and labels. For lots of the older songs, the labels don’t even have the Pro Versions of the videos archived, which really surprised me!

It’s really interesting to see the videos side by side, the same locations crop up. It shows how across the generations, music movements continue to be inspired by the city.

When or where should this music be listened to?

Ideally come along to the late event tonight (19 May) at the Museum Of London, I’ll be screening the videos in a space called the Pleasure Gardens, a reconstruction of a high society Victorian pleasure garden. But if you can’t make it along, have a listen to the songs while walking around the streets themselves. Also head over to Youtube and give the videos a watch back, you can see how the streets have been a backdrop to audio visuals.

Are there songs that instantly remind you of London? 

I am a born and bred Londoner so I’ve listened to so much stuff walking around the city streets, songs that aren’t even about London will remind me of it! I think For Tomorrow by Blur will always remind me of growing up as a teenager in London, probably made a homage by going to Primrose Hill and rolling down. Sometimes lyrics encourage you to go places in the world you’ve never been before, and you can be a tourist in your home town.