On my radar: Ellie Rowsell’s cultural highlights

The Wolf Alice leader on photographer Lee Miller, the music of Alex G and the best diner in Hollywood

Ellie Rowsell was born in London in 1992. In 2010, she won the Holloway arts festival singer songwriter competition and soon after formed indie band Wolf Alice, named after an Angela Carter short story. Their first official single, Fluffy, was released in February 2013, and their debut album, My Love Is Cool, was released on Dirty Hit Records in June last year, going straight in at No 2 in the UK charts. The single Moaning Lisa Smile was nominated for a Grammy award for best rock performance in 2016. Wolf Alice are touring the UK until 29 March.

lee miller in bathtub
Lee Miller in Hitler’s Bath, Munich 1945. Photograph: David E Scherman/IWM

1 | Exhibition

Lee Miller: A Woman’s War

I had never heard of Lee Miller before I saw this exhibition at London’s Imperial War Museum. She was a correspondent for Vogue during the second world war and her photographs – all with a primary focus on the women of the war, their roles, jobs and experiences – make for a truly eye-opening exhibition. Miller had an absolutely fascinating life, full to the brim with peculiar and astonishing anecdotes. One of the pictures that stood out for me was of her in Hitler’s bath in Munich in 1945 – it’s a stunning and eerie photograph. When I went, her son was there filming something for TV – he has spent most his life dedicated to promoting and sharing his mother’s work.

the karman line

2 | Film

The Karman Line (2014)

I’m a fan of Olivia Colman, so when I saw she was in a short film called The Karman Line I had to watch it. I was on a plane at the time and I was in tears at the end (though I usually am when I watch something vaguely emotional on the plane – it might have something to do with lack of oxygen, or maybe raiding the bar during the flight). She plays a woman who, due to some mysterious illness, starts rising into the air and nobody can stop her. Her husband has to cut a hole in the ceiling so she doesn’t break her neck and every day she lifts up further and further. I haven’t seen many short films – I always find they’re a bit hit and miss – but this was amazing. It was like watching someone’s dream, so realistic yet completely impossible, and I think that’s always a good mix for a movie.

blue 17 holloway

3 | Shop

Blue 17

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t the only person who takes advantage of Holloway Road’s “chic”. I have been shopping at Blue 17 since I was a kid and it was a nameless secondhand shop tucked away next to the CND offices and the young person’s sexual health clinic. It’s still run by the same people but they’ve spruced it up a bit and given it a name. The clothes are just as good. You can get some affordable secondhand goodies, especially coats and unique vintage pieces that are a little more pricey. I think I help keep them in business as almost everything I own is from there and I’m often sending friends down to check it out. They’re always playing good music in there too.

101 coffee shop hollywood

4 | Food

The 101 Coffee Shop, Los Angeles

Last year, we were lucky enough to go to LA quite a few times. We’ve seen some plush hotels over there but our favourite is the Best Western in Hollywood, because we like the trashy Hollywood motel feel, but mainly because it’s joined to the 101 Coffee Shop. It’s a diner that’s been around for ever and serves delicious food – healthier than normal diner fare – at an affordable price. When I first tried the nut and honey shake, a piece of me died and went to heaven. We’re also very much creatures of habit, so if we find somewhere we like we don’t really venture anywhere else.

our band could be your life

5 | Book

Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad

Joel [Amey, Wolf Alice drummer] lent me this book on tour. I used to only ever read fiction when I was growing up but have recently got into memoirs and autobiographies. This is about American hardcore music in the 1980s and 90s and each chapter is dedicated to a band – from Black Flag to Mudhoney. A few people told me that reading this book is what made them knuckle down and start a band of their own and I can see why. The punk ethos that ties all the bands together and yet sets them all apart is captivating. This book has introduced me to a lot of American hardcore and punk bands that I had never been that bothered to check out before. I’m a bit worried now that our second LP is going to be full of two-minute 180bpm songs about not giving a fuck.

alex g on stage
Alex G: ‘like the soundtrack to the perfect American indie teen movie’. Photograph: Roger Kisby/Getty Images

6 | Album

Alex G: Beach Music

I first heard about Alex G a year ago when someone sent me his album DSU. I loved it, it was like the soundtrack to the perfect American indie teen movie. It makes me feel quite nostalgic for something I’m not even sure I’ve experienced. I love his guitar tone and his quiet Elliott Smith-style vocals. His new album, Beach Music, is similar but I feel it has progressed in terms of experimentation. It’s beautifully weird and each song has its own character. It’s almost like a grungy version of André 3000’s The Love Below. The song that jumped out at me was Brite Boy, which features a child’s voice alongside his. I don’t know who this brite boy is, but it sounded to me like something from a fairytale.

5 broken cameras film still
5 Broken Cameras: ‘You really get attached to the characters in the film, which makes it more distressing.’ Photograph: handout/Handout

7 | Documentary

5 Broken Cameras (2011)

This documentary is from 2011 but I watched it recently. It’s a brilliant film and I found it so informative. If you want to learn about the situation in Palestine, I think it’s a really good place to start rather than trying to read through years of history and politics. It’s all shot by a Palestinian farmer who has a camera and wants to document the occupation of the West Bank and how that affects him, his family, those around him. He gets through five cameras – each gets a chapter and the way he loses each one is telling of his situation. It’s a really interesting way to structure a film. And you really get attached to the characters in the film, which makes it more distressing.


Killian Fox

The GuardianTramp

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