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. 🙂

Tuesday Chats: Do I Have The Right To Talk About Music?

Hello everyone, and welcome to a new segment I’ve created called ‘Tuesday Chats’.

‘Tuesday Chats’ is going to be an ongoing series with more of an informal vibe, as I’ve noticed that while my content is becoming more formal and professional, I don’t have many posts whereby I just chat to you and let more of my personality come through.

Because of this, I wanted to incorporate a regular thread where I just talk to you about things that are on my mind. This also breaks things up amongst the reviews and articles which, by nature, have to be very thought out and structured. So, what better way to kick off this series than with something music related (as not all of these posts will be) that has been on my mind for a while, and that is: do I have the right to talk about music?

A few months back, while I was travelling somewhere, I got talking to someone on the journey who turned out to be a musician. He asked me what I did, so I told him that I was between jobs but I run this blog and I’m a qualified music journalist. He then proceeded to ask: ‘so who are you then, to give your opinion?’ His statement, coupled with the tone of his voice, translated into: ‘who is going to care about your opinion, what gives you the right to talk about music?’ and for a minute, I didn’t really know what to say.

I was unsure about writing a blog post about this subject as I didn’t want it to come across as though I was ‘blowing my own trumpet’, but then recently, I saw a video on YouTube that re-inspired me.

Let me just take a second here to introduce you to tattoo YouTuber Treacle Tatts, or Lauren, if you prefer. Describing herself as “your verbally unfiltered friend”, Lauren makes videos, mainly, about tattoos. Nothing more than a tattoo enthusiast – with no official training or notable experience other than being tattooed – Lauren uses her channel to share her love of the art, in the form of sharing her opinions and experiences. At the tail-end of last year, Lauren uploaded a video entitled ‘Do I Have The Right To Talk About Tattoos?’ in which, she shared her reasons for making videos about tattoos and some of the backlash she has received because of it.

Around the 10 minute mark, Lauren asks: ‘Do I have the right to talk about tattoos and tell people what a tattoo should look like?’ to which she answers no and explains her reasoning. That, as well as the title of the video in general, really struck a chord with me as my immediate answer to the question was: yes, why wouldn’t you have the right to talk about it? Especially if it’s something you’re passionate about.

This brings me back to my original point: who am I, an unknown non-musician and self-confessed music obsessive, to critique and give my opinion on anyone’s music? Honestly, it played on my mind for a while, but after thinking about it, there are a few reasons why I have just as much right to talk about music as anyone else.

The first of which being, that I have a BA (hons) degree in Music Journalism. Now, I know how pretentious that may sound, like ‘I’ve been to uni and now I know all’. No, that’s not what I’m going for. All I mean to say is that I chose to go to uni and study Music Journalism for three years, learning how to write good reviews and articles, how to conduct interviews, and really honing my skills as a writer.

Also, you may know if you’ve followed me for a while, I actually set up this blog during my degree as a requirement for one of our assignments. So, outside of classes I was putting into practice what I was learning. I decided to use the platform to create a body of work that I could show to prospective employers when I graduated, so instead of just saying I’m motivated and able to act on my own initiative, they’d see it. Because I enjoyed it so much I would also seek out contribution opportunities, and enquire about artist interviews, in my spare time. As a result I had my first two pieces published in BBM Magazine, as well as had the opportunity to interview some of my favourite artists including, The Summer Set’s Brian Dales, Elissa Franceschi, and Set It Off’s Cody Carson.

It was important to me to have work experience as well as my degree because, fun fact, I was once told that a journalism degree is almost worthless. I went to a university fare during my A-Levels and asked one of the reps about Journalism degrees, to which he replied: “why are you doing a journalism degree if you want to be a journalist? most places want experience, a degree isn’t going to get you a job.” I was stunned. I agree that there’s nothing worse than an arrogant graduate fresh out of university thinking they’re now entitled to a job purely because of that fact, but I still chose to do a degree because I thought if I could have both a degree and experience, it may work in my favour.

In terms of being able to talk technically about music, obviously I learned some terminology over the course of my degree, but something you may not know about me is that I sing. It’s not something I publicise but I enjoy singing and had vocal lessons on and off for three years. Through this, I learned a lot about different techniques and how to use them in your performance to get the best out of your voice. Now when I listen to music, I’m able to identify if someone is straining to hit notes outside of their range, or simple things like not singing with your mouth open enough (which sounds silly, but can actually make a big difference to how you sound.)

Lastly, I feel that I’m ‘qualified’ to talk about music, simply because I have a genuine love and passion for music and the people who make it. I think that if you genuinely enjoy something, you will inevitably find yourself learning more about the subject naturally – therefore becoming even more informed. As I’ve said multiple times before, I’m not a full-time blogger and I don’t get paid for anything you see on here, but music is a huge part of my life and it’s what I’m passionate about. I enjoy talking to people about – and sharing – the music that I love in the hopes of reaching someone who will like it just as much and, at its core, that’s what this blog is about.

I never want to be seen as a know-it-all or unapproachable, I simply hope that my love for music is reflected in my writing and is an accurate representation of myself. Because of this I very seldom give bad reviews. I think there’s enough negativity that exists on the internet – in the form of trolling and things like that – and I don’t see the need to add to it. One of my favourite quotes is: “Be an advocate for what you love instead of bashing what you hate”, and that is exactly the approach I take to blogging. I don’t see the need to write a review that highlights everything I don’t like about a piece of music, I’d rather spend my time talking about the things I do like and being known for spreading love and positivity.

So, do I have the right to talk about music? Yes. Anyone with half a brain will understand that art is subjective, meaning whether or not you like something is based on personal opinion and how it affects you. No one else, you. That is all I try to convey in my blogs; you may not like the music that I like but then again, you might. So, Instead of just saying ‘hey, I like this’, I give an informed opinion telling you my reasons for liking, or disliking, something. My only hope is to reach like-minded music lovers and to encourage people to give things a chance – I’ve been surprised many a time by music that I didn’t think I’d necessarily like.

But honestly, I think that if you have a genuine, deep-rooted love and passion for a subject, and you make it your business to continuously learn and grow your knowledge of it, then you have just as much right to talk about it and offer an opinion as anyone else.

 

As always thank you for reading. What are your thoughts on the subject? Would you rather listen to someone who has all the qualifications in the world but no passion, or someone who is admittedly learning all the time and just loves what they’re talking about?

 

I upload a new blog every week, if you’d like to keep up to date with my upcoming posts feel free to come join me on:

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*Just in case anyone picks up on this, I’d like to address that Lauren (Treacle Tatts) does have two videos on her channel about Tattoo Fixers that are far from favourable, and if you follow my blog you’ll know that as a viewer, I enjoy the show and I’ve actually been tattooed by one of the featured artists. However, I don’t see this difference of opinion as a problem; I’d hope people can accept that not everyone is going to feel the same about certain things – it’s what makes life interesting. I’m always curious to hear other people’s opinions (which is why I watched her videos on the show in the first place,) it doesn’t stop me enjoying her content and I’m a fan of her candid, down-to-earth personality – she comes across as a great person to hang out and talk tattoos with. A big thank you to her for being cool about me posting this and agreeing to be a reference within the discussion – Thank you Lauren!

Artists I’d Like to See Live In 2017

Greetings readers,

It’s nearly the end of January; we’re a month into 2017 already! I hope you’ve all had a great start to the year and that you’re keeping up your new year’s resolutions (if you made any!)

If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you may remember that I did a post like this in 2015 as part of my ‘Journaling In January’ series, where I listed the artists I’d like to see that year, followed by a separate list compiling the artists I’d like to see again. I thought it’d be nice to make it an annual thing to see how my choices evolve, if any become staple and crop up more than once, and who I do actually manage to see live over the next 12 months.

I felt it unnecessary to split the list into two parts this time but, some of these artists I have seen before, so I’ll include links to any previous live reviews where applicable. So, before I ramble on too much, here are the artists I’d like to see live in 2017 – not in any particular order because trying to pick would take me far too long.

 

The Summer Set

The Summer Set at the Electric Ballroom

The Summer Set at the Electric Ballroom

I included The Summer Set in last year’s ‘Band’s I’d Like to See’ post, and my reasons for featuring them haven’t changed much. I feel as though my previous explanation perfectly sums up why I want to continue to see them live when they visit the UK and why I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen them live to do the same. As I said in my previous review:

If you’ve read my blog before then this Arizona based quintet don’t really need any introduction, as you’ll know that I’ve seen them a fair few times already. And there is one very simple reason for that: They put on an awesome show. Every single time I’ve seen The Summer Set live it’s been an insanely fun pop/punk party that nobody wants to end. Their energy is infectious and their set electrifying; with plenty of opportunities to jump around like a loon, as well as poignant moments that you can’t help but get caught up in. One thing’s for sure, they put everything they have into that moment and it always makes for a killer performance.

I’ve previously seen The Summer Set live a number of times, whenever they do a UK tour I try to get tickets as their live show is always insane.

Click here to see my most recent live review of the band at Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms, on the UK leg of their ‘Stories For Monday’ tour.
Click here to see my review of their newest album ‘Stories For Monday’.
Click here to see my live review of The Summer Set from back in 2014, with support from Paradise Fears & William Beckett.

 

Set It Off

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With Set It Off’s Cody Carson after their show at London’s Electric Ballroom

The last, and only, time I saw Set It Off was in 2013 when I got invited to interview them after their London show at Camden’s Electric Ballroom, supporting Aussie quintet Tonight Alive. Admittedly I hadn’t listened to their music before that night, so I was going in totally blind, and I wasn’t disappointed. After immediately buying their debut album ‘Cinematics’ from the merch table that night, Set It Off quickly became a firm favourite of mine.

Since then they’ve released follow-up record ‘Duality’, and their newest offering ‘Upside Down’ dropped in October this year. After following the progression of their albums over the years, it’s clear that their dark, orchestral pop-rock sound has evolved into something lighter and increasingly more pop-driven. Personally, I would like to see how that translates into their live set-up – as I know their performances to be quite chaotic and very befitting of a typical rock show – so it’d be interesting to see how this shift in genre correlates.

I’ve also included Set It Off in quite a few posts over the last year so, if you’re interested in those, please check them out if you’d like to:

Click here to see why I included the four-piece in my ‘Band’s I’d Like to See Again in 2015’.
Click here to see my review of the band’s sophomore album Duality.
Click here to see my Q&A with Set It Off’s Cody Carson at Camden’s Electric Ballroom.
Click here to see my review of the band’s debut album Cinematics.

 

Against The Current

I only got into Against The Current’s music in mid-2016, but I became a huge fan pretty quickly. I’d seen some of their cover videos on YouTube – often featuring other unsigned artists such as Alex Goot and Max – but I didn’t get around to listening to their original music until more recently. However, I’m so glad I did because I absolutely love it. I reviewed their debut studio album ‘In Our Bones’ as part of my ‘Jammin’ In July’ series, and as I said: ‘the band are quickly making a name for themselves and…look set to take the music world by storm’.

I’ve since seen a lot of live footage of the band (thanks to YouTube) and it looks as though they put on a great show full of energy and fun. Chrissy Costanza’s vocals also sound just as amazing live as they do on record, as evidenced by their unofficial video for ‘Young and Relentless’ – which sees them play their way through the busy streets of London – as well as the above video from A-Sides on YouTube. After missing them on their last visit to the UK in September 2016, I’m crossing my fingers that I can get tickets for their upcoming tour in March.

Click here to see my review of ATC’s debut album ‘In Our Bones’.
Click here to see my review of the band’s cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘I Really Really Like You’ featuring pop solo artist, Max.

 

You Me At Six

You Me At Six have been one of my favourite bands since I was 17 and, now in my mid 20’s, the amount of times I’ve seen them live is well into double figures – and for good reason. With headline shows at The 02 and Wembley Arena under their belts, as well as a whole host of others, the Brit rockers have come long way since their beginning in 2005.

Now they find themselves at the forefront of British rock music, gaining recognition from the mainstream, receiving airplay from the likes of Radio One and reaching number one in the mid-week charts. They never disappoint with their live show, it’s always a whirlwind of energy and fun, and I have nothing but fond memories of seeing them. The last time I saw them was in 2012 and I think that seriously needs to be rectified.

Click here to see my live review of the YMAS at London’s Brixton Academy, on the ‘Sinners Never Sleep’ tour in 2012.
Click here to see my review of the band’s most recent album ‘Cavalier Youth’.

 

Ed Sheeran

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, I’m guessing you know who Ed Sheeran is. Named the biggest selling artist of 2014 – scooping numerous awards and playing multiple sell-out shows at Wembley Arena – Sheeran took some time away from the limelight in 2016, using the year to work on new material and to re-charge.

After catching his stunning live performances at The BBC Music Awards and The Brits, to name a few, and having watched his live DVD ‘Jumpers For Goalposts’, I’d love to experience his live show. He’s one of the few mainstream artists I’d pay good money to go and see.

Click here to see my dual review of Sheeran’s newest singles ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’.
Click here to see my album review of his previous offering ‘X’.
Click here to find out why I also included Sheeran in my ‘Artist’s I’d Like to See in 2015’.

 

Stevie P & Sketch

A video still from Stevie P & Sketch’s debut offering ‘Everything (Pt 2)’

Again, if you’re familiar with my little corner of the internet, then this rap/rock duo should need absolutely no introduction as I feel like I’ve been banging on about them over the course of this year. Stevie P and Sketch (the latter of whom you may also recognise from E4’s Tattoo Fixers) have dropped some great tracks this year including, beaut rap ballad ‘Street Lights’ and abruptly raw number ‘Nightmares’.

I have absolutely no idea if the guys are planning on – or even able to – fit any live performances into their busy schedules but I’d love to see it happen, mainly for the fact that they never cease to surprise me. Each time they unveil a new track they seem to add in new elements that leave you wondering what else they’re going to work into their sound, almost drip feeding it to us. As a result it definitely makes you want to hear more to see where they’re going to take it next.

As well as wanting to hear more of their stuff, I’d also like to see their on-stage personas for myself and how that correlates with the music (if you’ve seen any of their music videos you’ll know what I mean.) I just think it’d be interesting, in the best possible sense, and you’d get to hear some great music – bonus.

As I said before, I’ve featured the guys in a few previous blog posts so, if you’re interested in those, please see the list below and have a read 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’.
click here for my follow-up article on spin-off show, ‘Tattoo Fixers On Holiday’.
And, if you’re interested, click here to check out my blog about getting tattooed by Sketch at his studio in November last year.

 

Talia Mar

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© Skins Elliott Photography

I became aware of singer-songwriter – and beauty/lifestyle vlogger – Talia Mar’s music when I saw her perform at a showcase event I went to back in November, known as ‘Musique LDN’. Because of the sheer volume of names on the bill each act only played 2-3 songs each, so it was a bit difficult to get a proper feel for the artists, however, I was immediately struck by Talia’s performance and really enjoyed her set on the day.

Since then I’ve checked out (and totally fell in love with) her debut release ‘Stolen’, which is entirely self-produced. I also did a review of the song in early December, and gave it an honourable mention in my ‘Tracks of the Month’. I’d love to see Talia Mar live because she has a great voice, to hear more of her material, and to just get more of a feel for who she is as an artist.

Click here to see my review of the ‘Musique’ event where I saw Talia Mar perform.
Click here to see my review of her debut offering, ‘Stolen’.

 

And that’s about it. Are there any bands/artists that you’d love to see this year? Who are your absolute staples that you know are sure to put on an amazing show every time? Feel free to let me know in a comment 🙂 .

 

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, be sure to come and join me on:

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Happy New Year 2016 (and Here’s to 2017!)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas, and that 2017 got off to a great start whatever it is you got up to – whether that was downing shots in the pub or cosied up in front of the TV. As has come to be tradition around here, I wanted my first blog of 2017 to look back on the previous year, talk you through the highlights and give some much-deserved thanks.

If you’ve been around here for the last couple of years then you’ll know that I totally re-designed the blog at the beginning of 2016. After starting this site back in 2010 it had become increasingly apparent that it was showing its age and in desperate need of a face-lift. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out – it’s undoubtedly a massive improvement!

Speaking of behind-the-scenes type things, we managed to hit over 5,500 views last year, with an average of 400-500 hits a month. Considering that it was on (just over) 3,500 in 2015 – with an average of approximately 2,000 over previous years – it totally blows my mind. To have grown by that many views – for someone who just sits in her bedroom and writes about things she’s passionate about – is an amazing feeling. Another thing that I’m always indescribably thankful for, is when an artist I’ve written about shares my work.

alex-marshall-blog-love

Click here to see some of the really lovely things people have said about my work.

As I’ve said in previous blog posts, I never expect – just because I’ve written about someone – that they’re going to share it with their followers in any way, so it’s always really flattering when it happens. Throughout 2016 my work was liked, read and shared by artists that I have great admiration and respect for, as well as people who have read and found something they like in it. That never goes unappreciated – after all, there wouldn’t be much point to me writing this blog if no one was reading it!

On that note, I’m beyond proud of all the posts that I uploaded last year. I remember when I interviewed Brian Dales (The Summer Set) back in 2012, he said “the more you practice your craft, the better you get at it”, and that is something that really resonated with me. When I set up this blog it was as a requirement for a university project, so priority-wise it always came second to something, whether that was my degree or a full-time job. However, over the last 2 years I’ve really focused a lot of my time and energy on writing and I think that shows, both in my skills as a journalist, and the amount of views this blog has gotten over the last 12 months.

However, whilst I feel like I’ve really honed my skills as a writer and I’m happy with my current style, that is by no means saying that everything I do is perfect – it isn’t – and that there isn’t always more to learn and improve on – there is.

My Top 5 most viewed posts this year

My Top 5 most viewed posts last year

I also saw some great artists live last year, including The Summer Set – on the UK leg of their ‘Stories For Monday tour’ – and Waltzz, the latter of whom approached me to possibly review some of his music at the beginning of the year. Following that, and also meeting up with him at a music showcase event in November, we’re now on each other’s Christmas card lists!

As well as that, I also reviewed Costa-Blanca based band Snowblind when they came over for a UK tour in the spring. Subsequently my review was then published in Spanish/English magazine ‘QR’. This was a huge achievement, and very flattering, for me as it’s not every day that I’m approached to have my work published. Seeing it in print was such a surreal feeling; I love how it came out.

Snowblind review in QR

Snowblind review in QR

There were also some amazing releases from some fantastic artists including, The Summer Set, Against The Current, rap/rock duo Stevie P and Sketch, and former member of The Cab Alex Marshall, who dropped his debut solo single during the summer. I won’t go into that in too much detail though because I have my ‘Top Songs of 2016’ coming in the next few weeks, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that.

Going forward into 2017, I’d like to incorporate more of my interests into this platform that aren’t necessarily music based but more lifestyle. Over the course of last year I wrote about non-music related subjects and they seemed to be really well received. I opened up about my disability ahead of The Paralympics – something I’d never thought I’d do but I’m proud of all the same. And, I wrote a follow-up to my Tattoo Fixers article about the ‘On Holiday’ spin-off of the show. If you’ve started following my blog recently then you’ll also know that I actually got a piece done by Tattoo Fixers’ very own Sketch, at his South-east London studio Reppin Ink in November. Having wanted a piece done by him for a few years (not to mention being a big fan of his music) that was a major highlight of the year. It was a really fun experience, and he’s one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people you could ever hope to meet.

Click here to see the blog post all about my tattoo experience with Sketch

Click here to see the blog post all about my tattoo experience with Sketch

I’d also like to make these lifestyle posts a bit chattier; I’m thinking of posting one a week and calling it ‘Chatty Tuesday’ or something. I also hope to make my ‘Book Club’ reviews more regular again, and perhaps even do a ‘YouTuber of the Month’ segment; I have a lot of ideas. As I’m getting older I just want to widen the scope a bit, while also making sure that the blog remains very music-based. As such, I met and discovered some amazing talent last year, so I hope to get some interviews in the pipeline too.

With that being said, I also want to remember to live in the moment and spend time with family and friends. This means that I’m not going to try and review everything anymore, but instead focus on the music/things that I 100% love and have a strong desire to promote. So, if you’ve ever sent me something to review and I haven’t got back to you, I’m sorry but I am just one person, it’s a busy life and I can’t do everything – as I’m sure you can understand.

However, thank you for your support over the years and I hope that you’ll continue on this journey with me throughout 2017 – let’s make it a great one!

 

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts this year, be sure to come and join me on:

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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:

Facebook & Twitter

🙂

Goodbye November, Hello December!

Hello everyone,

Seeing as we’ve now waved goodbye to November and welcomed December (AKA: The month of Christmas) with open, festive-jumper-clad, arms, I just wanted to write a chattier post to end my November series and to say a few thank you’s. If you’ve been following my posts this past month then you’ll know that I’d planned to do a series of sorts throughout November as it was ‘National Blog Posting Month’ (yes, that is a real thing, click here if you don’t believe me!)

Now, you may’ve noticed that my list of planned posts started off a little longer at the beginning of the series, as I’d originally planned to do 13 uploads across the month every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. These included some new ‘One to Watch’ posts and some opinion/discussion type articles that I’ve had on my mind for a while. However, I did say in my introductory post that the list might be subject to change, and as the weeks went by I did actually end up halving that amount.

There were a few reasons for this change, one being that I started the series late; I’d posted my previous blog not long before, and I wanted to give it time to breathe and to give people a chance to read it. Similarly, I decided to push back some articles to a later date rather than have them squashed into a series because, again, I wanted them to have chance to breathe and not be overlooked, which is always a danger when you post more frequently as things are easier to miss. I also decided not to include certain review-based posts as they were no longer relevant (and in some cases I’d lost enthusiasm for them.)

Aside from this change of mind, I’ve also been really stressed and had quite a busy month in terms of general life things. There have been birthdays and days out, I got tattooed by Tattoo Fixers’ Sketch at his studio Reppin Ink at the beginning of the month, and I had to visit the hospital more recently for a routine appointment that ended up taking longer than I’d hoped. Ultimately, I think I underestimated the amount of time things would take, how I would feel after certain days, and how long it’d take me to re-charge and feel like myself again. I’ve had fun, but I’ve also had a lot to deal with which, unfortunately, prevented me from being able to blog as much as I’d like to and, because of this, I also didn’t really stick to the schedule I’d created for myself – I think I managed two posts a week in most cases.

However, the pieces that I did post I was 100% happy with – and I’m glad that so many of you seemed to like them too, as my monthly hits went through the roof. Over the course of November I received some lovely messages, as well as multiple ‘likes’ and re-tweets on Twitter from artists that I admire, and I never feel entitled to that. I never automatically expect, because I’ve written a piece about someone’s music, or a live event, that anyone’s going to share it or reach out to me in anyway, so it’s always exciting when it happens.

On that note, I just wanted to take the time to say a massive thank you to anyone who did read or share my work last month, in particular:

 

  • MusiqueLDN 

MusiqueLDN is a live events company whose mission statement is to “bridge the gap between the artist and the industry”, by holding showcase events solely for unsigned talent. They held an event in Box Park Shoreditch, on Oct 30th, which I reviewed as part of this series.

  • Leah McKenzie

Leah McKenzie is a singer-songwriter who performed at the Musique event, and she also sent me some really positive feedback following my review, as did her manager Olivia Connolly, which I was thrilled to bits with. A larger than life character, McKenzie is all about spreading love and positivity, and inspiring others through her music.

  • Waltzz

 If you’ve read my blog before then, chances are, you’ll already be pretty familiar with this name as I’ve reviewed his work a number of times. Upcoming rapper Liam ‘Waltzz’ Stewart also performed at the Musique event and, after a chat with him, I decided to go so I could check him out live and so I could say hi in person, because we’d only ever spoken through the internet at that point. He also dropped new two-track single ‘I’m Alright’ earlier this month, which is included in this series too.

  • Sketch

Again, this name is going to be of no surprise to you if you’re familiar with my blog as I’ve written about the tattooist/singer-songwriter a few times over the last year. As I mentioned earlier, I actually got tattooed by Sketch at his studio Reppin Ink earlier this month. After being a fan of Tattoo Fixers and his work for a while, I’m pleased to say that he has left me with some amazing tattoos that I couldn’t be happier with. He is also one of the loveliest, most down to earth people you could ever hope to meet.

Thank you to all of you for showing the love and sharing my work last month. It means so much to me that you’ve read what I’ve written and like it enough to share it with your fan-bases and friends, please know that it never goes unappreciated. As I’ve said in previous blog posts, the reason I write about anything is because, at the core of everything, I’m a fan and there’s a certain amount of admiration and respect there. So, to get any kind of positive feedback is awesome for little ol’ me who sits in my bedroom and writes reviews about things that I’m passionate about and want to share.

 

 Click here to see some of the lovely things people have said about the blog.


Click here to see some of the lovely things people have said about the blog.

 

As for what’s coming over the next few weeks as we all start to wind down for Christmas, I currently have five new blog posts in the pipeline for the month of December, then I shall be taking a break over the festive season to spend time with family and friends.

 

During this post I’m aware that I have mentioned other pieces that I uploaded this month so, if any of those pique your interest, please see the list below and check them out if you’d like to.

Click here to see my introduction to National Blog Posting Month, and all uploads throughout the series.

Click here to see my blog post all about my tattoo experience with Sketch at his south-east London studio, Reppin Ink.

Click here to see my review of Musique, a live showcase event in Shoreditch’s Box Park solely for unsigned talent.

Click here to see my latest review of Waltzz, and his new two-track single, ‘I’m Alright’.

 

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, through the New Year and beyond, be sure to come and join me on:

Facebook & Twitter

🙂

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. 🙂