The Music of Linkin Park: A Tribute To Chester Bennington

On July 20th 2017, the music world was shaken to the core as news broke that Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington had been found dead in his home.

Over the past few weeks I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to post some sort of tribute to Chester Bennington; I wondered if people would consider it distasteful. However, seeing as his voice, and the music of Linkin Park, were such a big part of the soundtrack to my growing up, I decided that I wanted to share something – a Linkin Park appreciation post, if you will.

For those of you that are somehow unaware, Chester Bennington, the voice of popular rock band Linkin Park, tragically took his own life last month, just hours after the band released their new music video for ‘Talking To Myself’. Bennington dealt with a lot in his 41 years, including multiple substance addictions, alcoholism, and experiencing sexual abuse at a young age. He died on what would have been, fellow musician, Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday; a close friend of Bennington who also committed suicide by hanging only two months prior.

When news of Chester Bennington’s death broke I was shell-shocked. I saw Linkin Park trending on Twitter, then I started seeing posts ending in ‘RIP Chester’ and the like. My mouth dropped open and I went straight to Google where I found multiple reports confirming the singer’s death. Even though I didn’t know Chester Bennington, or even meet him, the news really hit me because the music of Linkin Park was a huge part of the soundtrack to my teenage years – they were one of the first bands that really solidified my love for rock music.

When I was around 14 and just starting to listen to rock, one of my friends lent me a Linkin Park album; little did I know that I would play it for weeks on end afterwards. The album was ‘Meteora’. The 2003 release features, now iconic, songs such as ‘Somewhere I Belong’ and ‘Numb’, as well as other favourites of mine including, ‘Faint’, ‘Breaking The Habit’ and ‘From The Inside’.

I really took the band’s music to my heart in my teens; something that I’m sure is true for many who grew up in that same era and identified with the music for whatever reason. I loved their composition of smooth vocals, rap, and raw screams, as well as the emotion that went into their angsty lyrics – lyrics that hit even harder now. It was music that gave so many people, so many ‘outsiders’, something to relate to in one way or another; voicing things that perhaps we as listeners, couldn’t. It brought the ‘outsiders’ in; helping people through their personal tribulations by sharing their own.

However, the haunting thing in light of Bennington’s suicide is where those songs came from. This sentiment is expressed perfectly in the band’s official statement following Bennington’s death: “It was the way you sang about those demons that made everyone fall in love with you in the first place. You fearlessly put them on display and, in doing so, brought us together and taught us to be more human.” Bennington’s wife, Talinda also released a heart-felt statement to Rolling Stone, in which she described her husband as a “bright, loving soul” and said that he is “now pain-free singing his songs in all our hearts.”

And, you only have to glance around to know that Bennington lives on in the heart of many; with tributes flooding in from fans and fellow musicians alike, both online and in the outside world. This love was also shown in that, in the wake of Bennington’s death, there were no less than 26 Linkin Park songs featured in the official UK rock top 40, with every slot in the top 15 filled by a track from the band.

Chester Bennington was many things: The voice of a generation, an icon, a true rock legend. But, away from the crowds, he was also, a son, a husband and a father. Whether you knew him personally, or as a fan of his music, or perhaps even a bit of both, one thing is absolutely certain: he is undoubtedly missed. But, for those of us who carry Linkin Park in our hearts, Chester Bennington will continue to live on through the music.

 

Sophie says: As said, Chester Bennington’s death sent a massive ripple through the music world, and to know that he took his own life is heart-breaking. If you, or anyone you know, is struggling please talk to someone – whether it be a parent, a friend, a teacher, a doctor, or some sort of professional, just know that there are people out there who can help. There will always be someone who will be there for you, and you don’t have to go through it alone.

RIP Chester.

Murdered For Being Different: The Death of Sophie Lancaster.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the horrific attack that led to her death, BBC Three have released a harrowing one-off film portraying the events that ended in Sophie Lancaster’s brutal murder.

Nico Mirallegro as Robert Maltby, and Abigail Lawrie as Sophie Lancaster

I want to write something different today. Something that matters. Something that means something. I sat down to watch the BBC Three dramatization of Sophie Lancaster’s death, Murdered For Being Different, and I knew I wasn’t in for an easy watch by any means, but I don’t think I could have ever really prepared myself for how the hour-long film made me feel.

‘Murdered For Being Different’ tells the true story of the vicious, hate-motivated attack on 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend Robert Maltby, which stemmed from the way they were dressed; they were Goths. After striking up a conversation with a group of strangers at a local petrol station, the friendly young couple – who had met two years previously – went with them to Stubbylee Park in Bacup, Lancashire, where Maltby was singled out in the completely unprovoked attack.

Image from BBC Three’s ‘Murdered For Being Different’

After Maltby and Lancaster spoke with the group and shared their cigarettes among them, five (then) teenage boys launched themselves at Maltby, kicking, punching and stamping on him until he was unconscious. Lancaster, who knelt by his side and cradled his head in her arms – assumedly trying to protect him from any further blows – was then also kicked and stamped upon repeatedly. Their injuries were so severe that both Maltby and Lancaster were left in comas. Maltby awoke a week later with little memory of what took place but, tragically, Lancaster never regained consciousness.

Having followed the story of Sophie Lancaster since my mid-teens (which I will talk more about later), when I saw ‘Murdered For Being Different’ online I was instantly intrigued. However, as I watched the brutally powerful re-telling, the gut-wrenching fact that these events actually happened hit home all over again. Told from the point of view of survivor Robert Maltby – played by Nico Mirallegro (Hollyoaks, My Mad Fat Diary) – factual drama ‘Murdered For Being Different’, interestingly also looks behind the attack and into the lives of Robert Maltby and Sophie Lancaster – played by Abigail Lawrie (The Casual Vacancy) – as a couple.

As the drama starts, a black screen is illuminated with the words ‘this is a true story’ in capitals. Five words made all the more menacing when you know what is to come. The twinkling, fairytale-esque, instrumental of ‘Pure Imagination’ quickly follows: beautiful yet chilling. The audience is then shown snippets of the events to come, ending with the frantic 999 phone-call and sound of sirens.

The film then takes audiences back two years before the attack, depicting the beginning of Maltby and Lancaster’s relationship. From their first meeting at a gig – set to the sound of The Subways’ ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Queen’ – to their first kiss; made all the more tender thanks to the piano version of the Pixies’ track ‘Where Is My Mind’. In another heart-warming scene, viewers see keen artist Maltby painting wings on Lancaster’s back, telling her ‘you’re an angel, you need wings.’ We also see him return home in the early hours of the morning, having travelled to buy Lancaster the final Harry Potter book and walking home in the rain. As the story unfolds it becomes increasingly apparent that their relationship was extremely affectionate and gentle; they were really in love. It shows that at their core they were just people, normal people who wanted to express their individuality in how they dressed.

However, the film also highlighted a darker side of their lives, regularly receiving abuse for their Gothic look: being called names, chased and threatened. The pair chose to rise above it, with Lancaster saying that “hiding means the idiots win.” This attitude is shown excellently at the end of the film as – after saying goodbye to an unresponsive Lawrie – Mirallegro is seen lacing up his boots, re-applying eye-liner to his heavily bruised face, re-adorning himself in his Gothic accessories, and nodding at his reflection before leaving the hospital to walk through Bacup market; refusing to hide himself and who he is.

The story is told in an extremely effective way throughout, using a series of flashbacks and cutaway’s, so upcoming events are hinted at and half-seen before being played in full towards the end. This technique also works to build tension and create a stark, unflinching contrast between the gentle, almost dream-like beginning of their relationship, to the gritty, graphic reconstruction of the disturbing attack that changed Maltby’s life and took Lancaster’s – making it an incredibly hard watch.

At the end of the heart-breaking drama, the sentences received by those involved are flashed up on-screen next to the faces of the respective actors who played them; three of the five young men have since been released from prison, while the other two are currently serving life sentences. Also shown is a frightening statistic: an astonishing 70,000 hate crime incidents were reported only last year in the UK. The highest it’s ever been. The film closes with a selection of images of Maltby and Lancaster together, set to the tune of Placebo’s eerily haunting version of Kate Bush classic ‘Running Up That Hill’ – the lyrics making it even more poignant.

I remember when I first read about this in ‘Kerrang!’ magazine when it happened back in 2007. I was 16. I didn’t know Sophie Lancaster or Robert Maltby but it’s impossible not to be moved by this story. It immediately resonated with me back then because I was also seen as ‘different’. I wore black eye-shadow, listened to heavy rock music, had a Jack Skellington bag shaped like a coffin, and changed my hair colour every few weeks; from red to blue, to black to pink. Everyone thought I was a little bit weird, and I got some light-hearted jibes thrown my way – but I was lucky, there was no malice in it. I was never into anything dodgy or dangerous, I wasn’t a Satanist, I just liked the Goth aesthetic; wearing black and being a bit different. Most of the other girls I knew were all about having perfectly brushed hair, re-applying make-up in classes, chasing the ‘cool’ boys…that wasn’t me. I was always championing individuality, and even scrawled ‘don’t be afraid to be yourself’ across one of my old school bags – which was met with questionable looks and raised eyebrows.

When this story broke, I felt sick reading the reports; I couldn’t believe that something so senseless and brutal had happened. How could someone do that to someone else? To punch, kick and stamp on someone’s head until they’re unconscious – and for what? After Sophie passed away, her mother Sylvia – who received an OBE in 2014 – set up a charity in her daughter’s name. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation works to spread awareness of alternative subcultures in society and the distressing effects of hate-crime, all the while keeping her memory alive. The charity – which stands for ‘Stamp Out Prejudice Hate and Intolerance Everywhere’ – teaches at primary, secondary and university level, as well as offering training courses, and working with the police and justice system with the view to prevent further crimes of this nature.

‘Murdered For Being Different’ is a powerful telling of a harrowing story; the film’s contrasting dual focus, first of Maltby and Lancaster’s relationship and then the horrific attack, making it all the more hard-hitting. It’s upsetting at times, but executed extremely well by the writers, director and actors. The emotion, from poignancy to brutality and everything in between, really came across – almost as though it reached out and grabbed you. It’s something that will stay with you after the credits have long finished rolling.

 

Weirdo? Mosher? Freak?

Human being.

 

 

Links:

  • If you haven’t already, you can still catch ‘Murdered For Being Different’ on BBC Iplayer, click here to watch it.
  • Along with his involvement in ‘Murdered For Being Different’, Robert Maltby has also spoken out about the attack, his recovery and his views – for the first and only time in ten years – in an interview with The Guardian. The article also highlights that Maltby went on to finish his illustration degree and now wants to move forward with his life as an artist. Click here to take a look at his portfolio, and click here to read the article.
  • While researching for this piece, I found a series of interviews on BBC Three’s YouTube channel in relation to the film, which included Tracy Maltby, Sylvia Lancaster and Robert Maltby, which I found really interesting. I also came across an interview with Sally Lindsay – who plays Tracy Maltby – and Slyvia Lancaster on ‘Lorraine’, where they talk about the film, Sophie’s memory and the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.
  • The Foundation’s official website also offers merchandise, to further spread the message that prejudice, hate and intolerance is not okay, with the proceeds going on to support the cause and the work that they do. The staff can also be found selling merchandise at festivals around the UK, including ‘Bloodstock’ which has a stage named after Sophie herself.
  • There are many annual fund-raising events that take place in support of S.O.P.H.I.E. You can keep up to date with any upcoming functions via social media:

Facebook / Instagram.

 

Loose Women Meets Calendar Girls

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re all doing really well and taking advantage of the lovely, sunny weather.

Today I’m posting a piece I wrote back in May, all about body confidence and the Loose Women ‘My Body, My Story’ campaign. I had hoped to upload this a lot earlier and I can only apologise for that – I’ve been so busy! However, seeing as we’re in the middle of summer and the bikinis are coming out in force, I still feel it’s relevant and, as a wider issue, it’s worth talking about regardless. Enjoy!

 

Loose Women Meets Calendar Girls

The stars of ITV’s daytime panel show ‘Loose Women’ lose their clothes for an inspiring body confidence campaign.

How many of us look in the mirror and only see the things we’d like to change? How many of us, when flicking through a magazine, or watching TV, see a model or celebrity and think ‘I wish I had their [insert favoured body part/physical feature here]? Personally, I think far too many of us do, and apparently I’m not the only one.

As we find ourselves in the throes of bikini season, instead of hiding our bodies away, the combination of heat and sun inspires us to dare to bare – and that’s exactly what the ladies of ITV1’s ‘Loose Women’ did. In a bid to inspire ladies of all ages, shapes and sizes, the ‘My Body, My Story’ campaign saw all the ‘Loose Women’ panellists – from Janet Street Porter to Katie Price – strip down to swimsuits and bare everything, scars and all, for an incredibly inspiring photoshoot.

Shot by – rock royalty turned photographer – Bryan Adams, the resulting campaign is a powerfully untouched image of the ladies smiling, laughing and exuding confidence. No filters, no airbrushing, no editing; nor is it needed. These are real women with real bodies, and they’re all beautiful.

During an especially dedicated ‘body confidence’ edition of the lunchtime panel show – aired on May 2nd 2017 – the ladies made reference to recently released images of Kim Kardashian’s trademark behind, which was shown to be full of dimples and cellulite. Kardashian’s reply? ‘I’m just sitting here on the beach with my flawless body.’ As Janet Street-Porter pointed out during the live broadcast, this shows that Kardashian seems to have a good sense of humour about the situation as she, assumedly, accepts that she isn’t perfect and this is the real her. Fellow panellist Andrea McLean also pointed out that the pictures created some uproar amongst the general public.

*NEWS FLASH* people get cellulite, people gain weight, people get stretch marks, people have scars. As you get older your bum is going to sag, your boobs are going to droop – that’s life. I think all too often people forget that celebrities are just that: people. Just because they’re in the public eye with their faces splashed all over magazines, they aren’t suddenly immune to the effects of ageing.

On a personal level, I have a close friend who is absolutely beautiful inside and out, who is also very conscious of her looks and her weight – and she really needn’t be. As I’m sure is true for all of us, she carried a bit more weight during her teens, but by no means anything to worry about. But, after a – quite frankly – ludicrous comment from an ex-boyfriend, she decided to change how she looked. Nowadays she’s super active; goes to the gym, does pole fitness and ariel hooping – and judging by the videos has a core of absolute steel. However, that one comment still haunts her, and she once told me that when she looks in the mirror she never feels or sees herself as attractive; and that absolutely broke my heart. Sadly though, I think this perception of self is true in a lot of cases.

I grew up in the era when size ‘0’ models were very much a thing and being thin was considered the stereotypical image of beauty. This is something I now know can be very damaging as it’s an unrealistic representation which effects impressionable young people. Singer-songwriter Demi Lovato is an advocate for body positivity who has been very vocal about the effect that this kind of thing had on her growing up; stating in interviews that she wants to see a change and be a healthier role model for young people.

Over the years, I do think we’ve seen an increase in curvy, buxom media personalities, and that the attitude is now more geared towards being healthy. As long as you’re healthy and happy you don’t need to be stick thin and airbrushed to perfection. Be proud. Accept your figure. Wear your scars like a badge of honour.

I once saw a quote online which read: “you’ll never look like the girl in the magazine. The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine.” I think that really hits the nail on the head regarding this subject, as it lays plainly the struggle to achieve some impossible image of perfection often presented to us. This is why the Loose Women ‘My Body, My Story’ campaign is even more powerful as it’s challenging that common perception; they’re standing up and saying ‘We’re real women and this is us; unashamedly, unabashedly, us. We’re beautiful too. ’ And that is something to be admired.

It’s one photograph but it holds such an inspiring message, and I think with it being summer and the bikinis coming out of hibernation, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I hope the campaign encourages more people to stop worrying about what others think and to be confident with their bodies. After all, you only get one body, be kind to yourself and love it.

Music is Love: One Love Manchester

Benefit concert ‘One Love Manchester’ proves that music brings people together in the wake of recent terror attacks in the UK.

Hey everyone,

I’ve been a little bit quiet lately, but if you follow me on my social media then you’ll know that I, like many others, tuned into BBC One’s coverage of the ‘One Love Manchester’ benefit concert on Sunday June 4th. Held at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, thousands of fans gathered at the charity event organised by pop singer Ariana Grande, to honour and raise funds for victims of the recent terror attack which took place after one of her shows in the city, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds more.

Being a music lover, I find solace and comfort in my favourite songs and will never be able to describe the feeling that can only come from truly connecting with a track, and being able to relate to someone else’s words on such a deep level. By extension, going to gigs is a way of celebrating and experiencing the joy and atmosphere that only a live show can bring. As I sat watching ‘One Love Manchester’ the poignancy of the whole event really hit me, even through my TV screen – and you’d only have to glance at Twitter to see that I wasn’t the only one.

I see concerts as a place of magic, of community, of belonging. There’s always the sense that, whatever you’re going through is left at the door and for those few hours, nothing else matters. Nothing but the music and the atmosphere that surrounds you. Coming together with total strangers but being united in the fact that you all believe in something, you all believe in this. ‘One Love Manchester’ really embodied that spirit, and showed that hate and fear will never overpower it.

Katy Perry’s words at One Love Manchester

There was a sense of strength and resilience at the core of the whole show; the artists playing tracks with powerful, inspirational vibes. From Robbie Williams’ moving renditions of ‘Strong’ and classic track ‘Angels’, to Katy Perry’s sassy performance of ‘Part of Me’, the message was clear: we will not be beaten. We will not be afraid.

Headliner Ariana Grande shared the stage with many of the other acts involved, including coming together with Miley Cyrus for a duet of Crowded House track ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, as well as joining forces with Coldplay to wow the audience with a heartfelt cover of popular Oasis number, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger.’

The 23 year old starlet also joined The Black Eyed Peas onstage for a performance of their 2003 number one single ‘Where Is The Love’. Upon its release the song topped the charts in 13 countries – including the UK where it occupied the number one spot for seven weeks – and is the epitome of the reason for the entire event. Lyrically, it addresses mindless acts of terrorism and asks, where is the love and compassion we should have for each other as human beings; making it as relevant now as it was back then.

Throughout every single act – including the likes of Little Mix, Niall Horan, Pharrell Williams, and Liam Gallagher – the 50,000 strong crowd sang, danced, and cried along to every single word. Many of the artists gave heartfelt speeches and were also overcome with emotion during their sets, none more so than Grande herself. As the night drew to a close, the young talent welcomed all the artists to the stage and thanked them for being involved, before launching into a heart-wrenching performance of her track ‘One Last Time’ – giving a goosebumps-inducing meaning to the song.

I have a huge amount of respect for Ariana Grande for organising the event and to all the artists who took part in some way, the entire concert overflowed with emotion and the love hung thick in the air – whether you were there or watching at home. Grande ended the night with a powerful version of ‘Over The Rainbow’, a beautiful moment that saw her become tearful. As she thanked and told the audience she loved them, it was evident that she herself is still deeply affected by what happened two weeks ago, but her spirit in organising the show and carrying on in spite of that is undisputedly endearing.

There is absolutely no denying the poignancy of the show as a whole, and of live music in general. To be so wrapped up in a song, to be able to scream the words at the top of your lungs because it means so much to you; and then to hear hundreds of other people doing the exact same thing, for the same reason is an amazingly moving feeling. The beautifully haunting sound of all the voices blending into one is truly something to be experienced and, in this particular incidence, knowing the reasons behind One Love Manchester: paying tribute to those who were lost or injured in the attack, you couldn’t not be moved by it.

Did you catch ‘One Love Manchester’ on BBC One last Sunday? What did you think of the show? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 🙂

Christmas Music: Is It Ever Too Early?

Season’s greetings readers,

Christmas is definitely upon us; twinkling fairy-lights adorn every tree, the mince pies are out in force, and there’s an excitable atmosphere in the air because it’s actually not that long of a wait until the big day itself. Some of my friends have even had their decorations up since before Bonfire Night, relentlessly counting down the days. As such, I thought I’d share something with you that comes to light every year. Something that inspires debate among myself, my family, and my friends – and that is Christmas music.

xmas-music-blog-post

I wasn’t aware of how much Christmas music – in particular when it’s acceptable to be played – divides people. It definitely seems to be a hot topic, at least with people I know, at this time of year. Personally, I have nothing against Christmas music; I enjoy the novelty of it and I think it’s a great way to get into the festive spirit. I’m willing to bet that even Scrooge had his favourite Christmas song that he played when no one was listening – there are just some absolute classics that you can’t not play. However, what I dislike about it, is how it starts to be played earlier and earlier each year.

When radio stations start to play Christmas songs before Halloween, or even before Bonfire Night, I just think ‘chill, it’s not even December yet’ – at least get those out of the way first. Similarly, someone posted a graphic on Twitter in August (yes, August!) saying that it was 18 Fridays until Christmas. Now, I’m all for being festive, but I immediately rolled my eyes and thought ‘really?!’ I can barely stand Xmas songs before Dec 1st, but starting the count-down in August is a bit ridiculous.

Personally, I think Christmas music should be unleashed from December 1st onwards – not before. My reason for this is that December is the month of Christmas, and I think anything before then runs the risk of quickly becoming overkill; by the time it gets to Christmas the novelty wears off and you’re bored of it before the season has even begun. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way and, when it happens, I think it’s such a shame because Christmas music is universal. Everyone knows the old classics and, if you’re anything like me, you can’t help but have a cheesy sing along with your family and friends.

Whatever your stand-point – whether it’s a case of the earlier the better, or if you roll your eyes and groan when you hear a Christmas song in November – it’s undeniable that some tracks you just can’t help but love, no matter how much you resist. I feel like everyone has their favourite festive song that just gets them in the mood for Christmas; whether that’s bringing back good memories of Christmases past or igniting the anticipation for the day ahead.

Personally, I just think Christmas – and everything that goes with it – should start in December. I’m not as rigid as to say that there should only be The 12 days of Christmas (six days before, six days after) but anything before the beginning of the month, and by the time Christmas Day rolls around you may have just had enough.

Each to their own, as they say, eh? Merry Christmas. 🙂

 

What do you think of Christmas music? Do you think it can become overkill by the time Christmas day actually comes, or are you totally Christmas crazy?

 

As always, thank you for reading. What’s your favourite Christmas song? Click here to see the review of mine. 🙂

If you would like to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, through the New Year and beyond, come and join me on:

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🙂

Tattoo Time: Getting Inked by Sketch at Reppin Ink

Hola readers,

As you can probably tell by the title, today’s post is going to be a little bit of a different one. If you’re no stranger to my little corner of the internet, then you’ll know that I’m a fan of E4’s hugely popular show Tattoo Fixers – and tattoos in general. You may also know that, outside of his work in tattooing, resident ink-slinger Sketch is also a singer-songwriter. Teaming up with friend and fellow artist Stevie P, the duo have released a few tracks online – which I have also previously featured on this very blog. Needless to say, I’m a fan of Sketch’s work, both in tattooing and music. If you follow me on Twitter then you may have seen that I actually got tattooed by the man himself recently at his south-east London studio, Reppin Ink.

TattooDay_Lightbox

Initially I was going to vlog parts of the day, but I hadn’t been tattooed since 2012 so I was really nervous going in. I also didn’t necessarily think about the practicality of filming, being that I was getting a rib tattoo so I was quite ‘exposed’, let’s say.

My friend and I got to the shop and, despite having ventured there a few times previously, were again both struck by how cool the inside of the studio looks. The walls are a deep purple – which also happens to be my favourite colour so maybe I’m a little biased – and the featured artwork is nothing short of beautiful. Displayed proudly behind the desk is a picture of the Tattoo Fixers cast, and there are also certificates from various tattoo conventions dotted around.

reppin-ink-wall-art

Reppin Ink wall art (I want this in my house!)

After a little while, Sketch came in and asked if I had any reference images for the piece I was having done – a dream catcher on my ribs – which I then gave to him. We had a bit of a chat about design specifics, and off he went into the back to draw everything up. My friend and I stayed out front and, once I’d signed the consent form with her nudging me excitedly, I made a tongue-in-cheek comment that I was scared. At which point, Sketch popped his head around the corner and asked “are you scared?” I told him I was, mainly because I hadn’t been tattooed in a while, before the appointment everybody kept telling me that rib tattoos really hurt, and I generally have anxiety anyway. Thankfully he was a total sweetheart about it, saying that he gets anxiety too sometimes, and that we could take our time. He also said that I may feel like I’m going to pass out at the beginning because you realise it’s not that bad, and your body has all this adrenaline that it doesn’t need so it just gets rid of it. This really reassured me and made me feel better. Then, off he went to continue drawing and, shortly after, Bring Me The Horizon’s newest single ‘Oh No’ started blaring from the back room – needless to say we had a bit of a sing along while we waited, my nerves well and truly calmed.

Not long after, in-house piercer Victoria came out with the initial design on an IPad (or some sort of tablet-looking thing) and after a few small tweaks we were called through to the back. Sketch very courteously asked me if I wanted any help with my bag, and he also took an instant liking to the waistcoat I was wearing, almost immediately asking where I’d got it. Following this, it was a case of rearranging and taping my clothes in place so that my ribs were actually exposed, putting the stencil on, and going over to the mirror to check everything was 100% as I wanted it – que some hilarious wardrobe issues, tipping tattoo beds and awkward manoeuvres around the studio. But, to their credit, Sketch and fellow tattooist Jack took it all in good humour, which made me feel even more comfortable – I’m sure they’ve seen a lot worse!

Getting Tattooed by Sketch

Getting my rib piece was nowhere near as painful as I thought it would be; as soon as he started, it was like I instantly remembered the ‘pain’ of getting tattooed and wondered what I was worried about. I’ve always been pretty good at getting tattoos, in fact I’ve been known to say that I quite enjoy it (don’t give me that look.) My friend even kept saying that she couldn’t believe how well I sat and that my face showed no signs of discomfort at all – I’m sure it did! Halfway through my leg started twitching loads and Sketch tapped the top of it and was like, ‘now I can feel your leg going.’ But, honestly, even I was surprised by how little it hurt both during and after – I started dancing in front of my friend after it was done and she was like “how are you doing that already?”

It helped that we chatted our way through it though, chewing over past drunken antics, questionable tattoos, my blogging, the show, being in the public eye, and how he refuses to tattoo any direct copies. He also asked about my disability and of course we spoke about music; there was even talk of a possible interview with him and Stevie P at some point to drum up publicity ahead of their next single. So, Sketch if you’re reading this, be sure to hit me up :). It was a lot of fun – he even had to tell me to stop laughing at one point.

dreamcatcher-by-sketch

My dream-catcher tattoo (just done.)

When my ribs were done I couldn’t wait to get a look at it. But, I was pretty wary of moving because, as I said, when I tried to get up previously the tattoo bed ended up tipping over – with my natural reaction being to try and stop it – which resulted in a casual nip-slip. Sketch also said he wanted to let me get my bearings for five minutes because I was shaking – I’m sure he thought I was going to pass out. He took my hand and helped me over to the mirror, telling me to lean back on him so I could check it out properly, and as soon as I saw it I was totally blown away. He asked me if I liked it and I think my face said it all; it’s everything I’d said I wanted, having combined all the elements, and style, beautifully. It’s delicate, it’s ornate, and it’s pretty. All the detail in the dot-work mandala design is amazing, and the little pops of colour really lifts it, rather than it just being standard black and grey. I love it – photos really don’t do it justice.

Being the trooper that I am, that wasn’t the only tattoo I was getting done that day; I was also getting a rose added to some existing pieces already on my wrist. However, we took a break before moving on to that, so I could get dressed again properly and sort myself out. I was made to feel very comfortable walking around the studio and at no point did I feel awkward or restricted. Like before, it was a case of talking through reference images, getting a stencil drawn up and going from there. It didn’t take us long to get started and, again, we talked all the way through it, from anxiety issues to my interest in tattooing – over the course of the day I think we chatted about everything other than our mutual love of sloths, surprisingly!

Getting Tattooed by Sketch

If you can believe it, getting my wrist done actually hurt more than my ribs did; it seemed to bleed more as well because of all the shading involved. But the end result was totally worth it because, as I said to Sketch, it looks sick. As before, he took my hand and helped me over to the mirror so I could get a proper look at it, and again, I was ecstatic. It’s bold but still feminine, the white highlight throughout is beautiful and the shading on it is amazing – I’m so happy with it.

My Rose tattoo by Sketch

My rose tattoo

Throughout both of my tattoos Sketch was really attentive, taking my hand and helping me to the mirror, and asking me if I felt ok or if I felt sick, on numerous occasions. I felt so comfortable and looked-after throughout the day, and Sketch is an absolute sweetheart; he was very open to getting pictures with both of us – he even tried my waistcoat on at one point. There was just constant banter and chats the whole time and we hung out in the shop pretty much all day.

They say you shouldn’t meet your idols but, luckily, I’ve never had any problems and this day was no exception. Sketch is one of the most honest and genuine people you could ever hope to meet; he’s a very ‘what you see is what you get’ character, and I think a lot of people would quickly realise that he is just a normal, down-to-earth guy who happens to be on TV. You can also tell there’s a genuine passion for what he does; he cares very much about the customer and what they want, and that ultimately they’re happy with it. You can see this as he goes to the mirror with you to see your reaction to your new piece; he’s not just like, ‘Ok, I’ve done it…next!’

It’s definitely not about the money with him either; he asked me early on what I was quoted for the work, so I told him and also said I’d brought extra cash with me in case we did run over, to which he replied “nah I wouldn’t charge you any more for it.” When we were done Sketch handed me the stencil of the rose, which he also signed, and said “this is yours, if you ever want it added to take that in and they’ll have the right one.” To which I replied, if I ever wanted it added to I’d just come back to him.

My rose stencil_Sketch

We hung out in the front of the shop a little while after that, as my friend decided to also get a piercing that day, and I ended up speaking to Victoria about after-care. She advised me to wash them with water and re-wrap them that night, and then continue to wash them with clean water and apply Bepanthen, morning and night, from the following day onwards. I didn’t get any ink transfer on anything, they didn’t bobble/scab nearly as much as my others did, and they definitely weren’t as sore – itchy, yes. Sore, no. My tattoos stayed relatively smooth up until they were healed and, honestly, I wish I’d had her there for all my tattoos; her advice was great, and the healing process on both my tattoos was totally different to the three I already had.

Now, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade so the shop shall remain nameless, but I couldn’t help but compare it where I’ve been tattooed before as it was a completely different experience. My usual tattoo studio is very ‘in and out’ – though that may be because all of my previous appointments were walk-ins and very small pieces. There’s not much of an atmosphere and as said, the aftercare advice wasn’t the same – a couple of my tattoos they didn’t even wrap, and one of my tattoos I was told to not even bother putting cream on.

Reppin Ink is totally different; there’s a jukebox in the back, there was music on the majority of the time, and it just generally had a warmer atmosphere overall – despite the back door being open. This may also have something to do with everyone who works there, as they’re all lovely people, very easy to chat to and, as said, they make you feel very comfortable and at home. It’s a very free and creative space, and I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else for my tattoos now – I’m already planning my next one. If I could tattoo, I’d want to work in there tomorrow.

A lot of people have a lot of different opinions on Sketch’s work – as they will with anyone who’s in the public eye – but in my experience, he does a fantastic job. He incorporated everything I wanted into each design resulting in tattoos that I absolutely love and couldn’t be happier with. He’s very warm, welcoming and caring of his customers, and this reflects in the overall atmosphere and vibe of the studio. Ultimately, I’m glad I went to him.

Emma-Sketch-Sophie

As always thank you for reading. Like I said at the beginning, I have featured Sketch in a few other blog posts so, if you’re interested in those, please see the list below and check them out if you’d like to. 🙂

Click here for my review of Sketch and Stevie P’s debut track ‘Everything Part 2’,
click here to see my review of their follow-up single ‘Street Lights’,
click here to find out why the duo are #3 on my ‘Top 10 Interviews Wish List’,
click here to read my original article on ‘Tattoo Fixers,
And click here for my follow-up article on spin-off show, ‘Tattoo Fixers On Holiday.’

 

I’m blogging every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday throughout November as its ‘National Blog Posting Month’. However, my schedule has gone a bit awry lately as I’ve had a lot going on. To keep up to date with my upcoming posts, come and join me on Facebook & Twitter, and to see what else is coming up throughout the rest of this month, click here. 🙂

 

We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday: Tattoo Fixers (On Holiday)

Our three favourite tattooists are back for another series of fixing terrible ink – and they’ve swapped grey and dreary London for the sunnier skies of the Mediterranean.

tattoo fixers hols

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, I’m pretty sure that you’ll know what ‘Tattoo Fixers’ is, or that you’ve at least heard of it. The UK based tattooing show that sets about righting the nation’s inking wrongs, fast became a favourite among audiences after debuting on E4 in June 2015 – trending third in the world on the night of its most recent season premiere.

I’m also sure, that we viewers have lost count of how many times a customer has come into the pop-up parlour with the opening line, “I was on holiday in Magaluf” (in fact it wouldn’t be a bad idea for a drinking game: every time someone says ‘Magaluf’ – take a shot, every time someone says “I was drunk” – down in one.) It would appear that this trend hasn’t gone unnoticed by show bosses either, who’ve endeavoured to get to the root of the problem, taking the show and it’s highly skilled artists straight to the source: the (drunken) holiday.

tattoo fixers hols sign

Now set in Greece for a special summer season, resident ink-slingers Jay, Sketch, and Alice get stuck into tackling more terrible tattoos, along with a healthy dose of sassiness from receptionist Paisley – standard. They may have swapped drizzly London for the blue skies of the Med, but the dodgy body art just keeps on coming. From a guy with an eternal VPL, to someone’s rather unique tribute to their best friend, the artists are on hand to sort out these horrible “holiday regrets”.

You know the drill: it’s summer, you’re on holiday and (after one too many glasses of vino) you find yourself at a tattoo shop. Whether it’s being egged on by friends, being too obliterated to know better, or somehow thinking it was a good idea at the time, you find yourself left with a painful – not to mention permanent – souvenir. Que the hilariously cheeky in-studio banter among the artists, as they compete to cover the clients’ undesirable reminders of things they’re ready to forget. Or in some cases not, as a familiar face makes a return. 26 year-old Sam ‘I’m on me holidays’ Robinson comes in with his memorable catchphrase back on his forearm (no, I’m not kidding!)

The show’s format is much the same as the London based version, with added snippets of the fixers’ fun in the sun – waterslide race anyone? And, as we’ve established, there’s certainly no shortage of dire inking disasters either…but let’s face it, it wouldn’t be much fun otherwise would it?

The show is now on the fourth episode of its eight week run, so if you’re intrigued (or you’re already a fan) you can check it out now on 4OD.

 

If you (somehow) have no idea what I’ve been talking about this whole time, click here to take a look at my original Tattoo Fixers article from back when the show premiered in 2015, to get up to speed.

Also, he may be an award-winning tattooist but, did you know South London lad Sketch also makes music? Coming together with fellow singer-songwriter Stevie P, the duo have released a few songs online. Click here to take a look at my review of their debut offering ‘Everything Part 2’, and click here to read my thoughts on their newest track ‘Street Lights’. I also included the pair in my ‘Top 10 Interviews Wish List’, click here to find out why.

 

As always, thanks for reading, if you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts come and join me on:

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🙂